We recently filed a case in the Federal District Court for Spokane, Washington, representing Pastor Rickey Martin and his congregation, Gatekeepers Church, who claim that their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated by Fire District No. 11 which changed its Facility Use Policy in December of 2005 to prohibit the use of their facilities by religious groups or for religious speech.
Gatekeepers Church had used the facility from August through December 2005 when they were informed that the Fire Commissioners were putting together a new Facility Use Policy that would prohibit religious uses, based on the opinion of their attorney that religious uses of the facility violated the Washington State Constitution Establishment Clause upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Locke v. Davey case.
We filed our papers and the judge set up a hearing on the Temporary Restraining Order for the next morning. We took the position that no
Later that day after we had returned to our offices, the Fire Districts attorney sent us an email saying that the case was over because the Fire District enacted a new policy the night before that restored religious uses. After reading the Policy, however, we realized that it was just another rouse and that its prohibition of religious speech was even tighter. The fees were so high that no one could use the facility more than once a month, and almost complete discretion was put in the hands of the individuals reviewing applications.
This is a clear-cut speech case despite the Fire District attorneys efforts to case it differently. Under Boy Scouts, Good News, Mergens, Lambs Chapel, Zelman and a long line of cases,