Chambers v. City of Frederick

AU's Role: 
AU's Involvement Began: 
June 2003
Status: 

This case involved a Fraternal Order of Eagles Ten Commandments monument that was erected in a public park in 1955. After an ACLU challenge to the monument, the City chose to sell a sliver of land under the monument, along with the monument itself, to the FOE, despite having received higher bids from others. The City did not erect a fence, put up a sign, or do anything else to dissociate itself from the monument. The ACLU then dropped its suit. AU filed suit in June 2003, arguing that Frederick’s actions did not cure the problem. The defendants filed motions to dismiss, which the court denied in November 2003. In the summer of 2004, after completing discovery, AU and its cooperating attorneys filed a motion for summary judgment and opposed the defendants’ cross-motions for summary judgment. The court denied all the motions for summary judgment, and AU’s legal team tried the case in January 2005. On June 21, 2005, the district court ruled in the defendants’ favor, finding that the sale cured any unconstitutional endorsement of the monument’s message because the FOE was the logical purchaser of the monument and the FOE retained the freedom to remove the monument at any time. We opted not to appeal the decision because the facts bore substantial similarity to those in the Van Orden case, as the park also includes a number of other items, many of them memorials to those lost in past wars.