Councilors will discuss Bloomfield monument
FARMINGTON — The Bloomfield City Council will hold a special work session Monday evening to discuss and possibly vote on how to proceed with a lawsuit regarding a Ten Commandments monument.
A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit upheld the decision of Senior U.S. District Judge James A. Parker on Nov. 9 that the monument outside Bloomfield City Hall violates the U.S. Constitution.
The Daily Times reported Parker wrote in his opinion that the monument constitutes government speech and is regulated by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
The court of appeals ruling said the monument — installed in July 2011 — would be seen as a religious endorsement by the Bloomfield government.
The lawsuit was filled by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2012 against the city on the behalf of two Wiccan residents, who claimed the monument violates their religious freedom.
It has been argued by city officials that the park where the monument is located is an “open forum” for historical documents.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit Christian organization in Scottsdale, Ariz., is representing the city in the lawsuit.
Bloomfield City Attorney Ryan Lane said there are three options the councilors will discuss and possibly vote on during the special meeting.
The first option would be to do nothing and drop the case, letting the ruling stand and proceeding with the removal of the Ten Commandments display from city property.
An “en banc” could also be filed, Lane said. Such a motion would request all 19 judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit hear the case again and review the appeal.
The third option to be discussed is the filing of a writ of certiorari to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to review the ruling by the 10th Circuit.
During a Nov. 14 council meeting, Bloomfield residents voiced their support of the monument and possibly taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lane said there is a Wednesday deadline to file a motion with the 10th Circuit.
The councilors will also approve a grant worth about $102,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the city’s water plant.
City Manager Eric Strahl said the grant will help pay for a new backup generator for the water plant. He said the city was notified earlier this week about the grant’s approval.
The project is expected to cost about $137,000 with the city providing the rest of the funding.
The council will meet at 5 p.m. Monday in the council chambers at City Hall at 915 N. First St.
Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.