Contra Costa County to Appeal Library Meeting-Room Injunction

June 17, 2005

Officials in Contra Costa County, California, will appeal a federal judge’s May 23 ruling that says the county library cannot ban religious services in its meeting rooms. The preliminary injunction stemmed from a July 2004 lawsuit filed by the Alliance Defense Fund, a coalition of religious-rights attorneys, on behalf of a Christian ministry that was denied space for holding a religious service at the library’s Antioch branch.

In a closed session June 7, county supervisors voted unanimously to appeal U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey S. White’s decision to a federal appeals court. Supervisor John Gioia said in the May 25 San Francisco Chronicle that the county’s policy of prohibiting religious services in library meeting rooms was important to taxpayers who did not want to subsidize the services. White had said in his ruling that the ADF had “established a likelihood of success on the merits of their First Amendment challenge.”

The ruling only affects libraries with meeting rooms managed by county library staffers, not those managed by municipalities.