FARMINGTON – A northwest New Mexico community is considering using online fundraising to pay the $700,000 it owes from a lawsuit that stemmed from a dispute over a Ten Commandments monument that was formerly located outside of Bloomfield City Hall.
The U.S. Supreme Court in 2017 sided with a lower court that ordered the monument’s removal, saying it violated the U.S. Constitution and represented a government endorsement of religion, the Farmington Daily Times reported .
The city of Bloomfield must now pay the legal fees for the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the complaint in 2012 on behalf of two Bloomfield residents, Janie Felix and Buford Coone.
Bloomfield has until June 30, 2021, to pay the $700,000 it owes for the American Civil Liberties Union’s legal fees, City Manager Eric Strahl said.
If the city is unable to raise money through donations to pay the $700,000, it will have to pay the sum out of its general fund, Strahl said.
The monument was installed in front of City Hall in 2011. Shortly afterward, Felix and Coone sued the city alleging it violated their constitutional rights and represented a government endorsement of religion.
The city maintained that the monument was placed in front of City Hall by a local group that is not connected to the city.
The city petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, but the high court declined the case.
The city asked the organization that owned the monument to move it off city property. It has since been relocated to property owned by a Baptist church.