Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story erroneously reported that Rob Sherman previously succeeded in blocking a law that would require a daily moment of silence in public schools. A federal judge had ruled the moment-of-silence law unconstitutional. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, however, overturned that ruling, and last month, the judge lifted the injunction blocking the law from taking effect. The story below has been corrected.
ST. LOUIS — A federal judge on yesterday tossed a Chicago-area atheist’s lawsuit that sought to force the return of a state grant that helped pay for restoration of an 11-story cross that is considered a landmark in southern Illinois.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Michael McCuskey, central Illinois’ chief federal jurist, sided with the state and the caretakers of the Bald Knob Cross of Peace near Alto Pass. He upheld the recommendation of federal magistrate David Bernthal, who last week rejected Rob Sherman’s argument that the $20,000 grant was unconstitutional.
Bernthal ruled that the grant was made by the state’s executive branch and was not a designated legislative “earmark” as Sherman had alleged. Bernthal also found that the state’s economic-development agency has discretion in how it doles out ...