A federal judge that oversees central Illinois threw out an atheist’s lawsuit that demanded the return of a $20,000 state grant used towards restoring a giant 111-foot cross.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael McCuskey rejected on Tuesday plaintiff Rob Sherman’s argument that the grant was unconstitutional because it was taken from $5 million designated for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The grant, unlike Sherman’s allegation, was found to be made at the discretion of the Illinois’ executive branch and was not a legislative “earmark” as the atheist activist asserted.

Sherman had filed the lawsuit last August against the 501(c)(3) Friends of the Cross, the State of Illinois, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), Gov. Pat Quinn and DCEO Director Warren Ribley in regards to the $20,000 state grant given to restore Bald Knob Cross of Peace near Alto Pass in southern Illinois.

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