Obama administration voices support for California cross

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The Obama administration is asking the Supreme Court to allow a 43-foot-tall cross that serves as a war memorial to remain atop Mt. Soledad in San Diego, arguing that the cross has been there since 1954 and is not an endorsement of religion.

The government should not be required “to tear down a cross that has stood without incident for 58 years as a highly venerated memorial to the nation’s fallen service members,” Solicitor Gen. Donald B. Verrilli Jr. said in a new appeal to the high court.

He urged the justices to reverse a decision last year by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that said the cross was primarily a Christian symbol and therefore unconstitutional. Its prominent display on public land in La Jolla amounted to an official “endorsement of religion” in violation of the 1st Amendment, the panel of judges said in a 3-0 ruling.

If the Supreme Court takes up the case this year — which is likely — the justices could be forced to finally resolve whether religious symbols, such as crosses or depictions of the Ten Commandments, can be prominently displayed on public land.

Two years ago, the high court rejected a challenge to the display of a small cross in the Mojave National Preserve, but the five justices in the majority disagreed on the reasons. The 9th Circuit’s latest opinion mostly ignored that ruling.

Since 1989, lawsuits from several veterans have challenged the Mt. Soledad cross, arguing that a single religious symbol did not speak for all veterans. But the San Diego city government and, more recently, Congress have intervened to preserve the cross.

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Comments

  1. and yet this administration has no problem in stepping on the reliogious liberties garenteed by the constitution.

  2. The only way any court can let this cross stand as is is to abandon all reason and to contort themselves into believing the absurd legal fiction that the cross has no sectarian religious meaning and that it’s just an all-purpose reverential symbol, like flowers or a graveside candle. I don’t think any serious jurist wants to put their name on a piece of reasoning that a 5-year-old could see as a farce. The fact that Christians actually will argue this absurdity in court puts them in the ironic (and contemptible) position of denying Christ three times (but, you know, it’s all for His glory this time!)

  3. Kenneth. The court could say we were wrong going back to 1947 and we need to go back to the original wording of the 1st amendment which bans us from forming a state secular atheist religion and forcing it on everyone else. That would be a good day for America. As to people buying into a farce, the democratic party and also Satan have been doing it for a very long time. The very ‘separation of church and state ruling” was in fact an outright distortion of truth. It led to the book burning in all our schools where God had to be removed and make way for the atheist god of nothing. How dare all those founders documents point out the essential of religion on the government they founded so much so it because the first right in the bill of rights. How dare Washington farewell address kids were learning in school mention God and his importance to everything in this country. In fact, lets get history out of here and replace it with attacks on anyone traced to the founding of America.

    What some on the left are worried about is that this issue of religious liberty is exposing their big lie and that is why they want to framed as a war on women and about birth control. It also exposes the fact that there is a death panel in ObamaCare and it does not need congress, only Sebelious and Obama. Grandma is next unless she dies in the time alloted by government.

  4. Yeah, they could suddenly decide to overturn 65 years of precedence, but I’m quite comfortable they won’t. You ought to write up a friend of the court brief though. Explain how the Democrats and Satan are in league and how Obama plans to begin executing grandmothers unless and until a theocracy is installed. Maybe reasoned legal arguments aren’t the best way to reach these folks after all…

  5. Richard Johnson says:

    I think that Mark may also want to include in that FotC brief a note about how these founders he is so enamored of were stalwart supporters of giving Catholics full and equal rights in this Christian nation.

  6. The First Amendment does not exist in isolation. It coexists with the Fourteenth Amendment, a connection most people nod to at best but neglect in depth.

    The equal protection and other clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment provide a bite to the First Amendment, a bite that becomes sharper as America becomes less homogenous and more plural in culture.

    Even if we could have more religion in the public square under the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment would require that that space be freely occupied by all comers, not just Christians (who admit Jews to the table when we don’t feel too threatened by Judaism). In today’s culture, that means Islam, Hinduism, all manner of paganism, occultism and what not.

    So, if one is comfortable with an occult pentagram instead of that cross, I will find the protestations of free exercise and the open public square more credible. Ditto prayer in public schools: you want public schools to sponsor it, then you take on prayers to Allah, Shiva, Baal, Satan and what not.

  7. I think errecting a cross as a civil display is inappropriate and should not be done as it suggests a government support for Christianity.

    I think tearing down a long standing cross is inappropriate and should not be done as it suggests a government hostitilty towards Christianity.

    So, let’s keep the status quo. No new cross; no tearing down old ones.

  8. They could keep the cross if it was not the only religious symbol there, or was not the overwhelmingly dominant one, and the courts have said as much. Most of the “freedom of religion not freedom from religion” folks don’t want that though. They want an exclusive privilege for their own religion in law, and the courts aren’t buying it.

  9. It’s a nice idea in a spirit of compromise sort of way, but it’s awfully hard to come up with a legal theory that allows a flagrant violation of the Constitution to stand simply in the spirit of compromise.

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