GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — An Ottawa County judge has dismissed a lawsuit over the removal of the Dewey Hill cross in Grand Haven.
In a ruling issued Tuesday, Judge Jon Hulsing ruled the group “Citizens of Grand Haven” did not have legal standing to file the lawsuit against the city.
Three other plaintiffs were part of the lawsuit as well, but sought to sue under the pseudonyms Jane Doe 1 and 2 and John Doe. They argued their identities should be allowed to be kept secret due to the religious and political nature of the dispute.
However Judge Hulsing ruled in favor of the presumption of openness in the judicial process and since there were no plaintiffs left with standing to file the lawsuit he dismissed the suit. He did note that it was a close ruling.
The group “Citizens of Grand Haven” decided to sue the city, saying the January resolution to take it down and turn it into an anchor violates Michigan’s Constitution regarding free speech.
Helen Brinkman, the attorney for “Citizens of Grand Haven”, said they are going to re-file the lawsuit with actual names instead of pseudonyms. She says they hope to put the constitutional issue in the forefront.
The controversy surrounding the cross, which has stood on the hill overlooking the Grand River on summer Sundays since the 1960s, has been developing for months. Opponents were prepared to sue the city over it, claiming there should not be a religious symbol on city-owned property.