LOS ANGELES — A federal judge on Monday denied a Christian group’s bid for a preliminary injunction to force suburban Santa Monica to reopen spaces in a city park to private, unattended displays, including Christmas Nativity scenes.
U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Collins formalized an earlier tentative ruling during a hearing.
William Becker, the attorney for the Christian group, said he expects the case will be dismissed at the next hearing and plans to appeal.
Christmas Nativity scenes had been erected in Palisades Park for decades. Last year, atheists overwhelmed the city’s auction process for display sites, winning most of the slots and triggering a bitter dispute.