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US judge tosses atheist's lawsuit over cross grant

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February 8, 2011 05:11 PM EST | AP


ST. LOUIS — A federal judge in Illinois has tossed out a Chicago-area atheist's quest to force the return of a state grant given to restoration efforts of a southern Illinois cross landmark.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael McCuskey, central Illinois' chief federal jurist, threw out Rob Sherman's lawsuit Tuesday.

McCuskey accepted the recommendation of U.S. Magistrate David Bernthal, who late last week refused to reconsider his decision to reject Sherman's lawsuit over the $20,000 grant to the 11-story tall Bald Knob Cross of Peace.

Bernthal ruled the state's economic-development agency has discretion in how it doles out its money.

Sherman has pledged this week to take the matter to a federal appellate court in Chicago if McCuskey ruled against him.