A Cross is a Cross, Especially on Government Land

Today, the ACLU and ACLU of San Diego will argue before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that the Mt. Soledad cross, a Latin cross that sits atop federal land in Southern California, violates the First Amendment prohibition against government-endorsed religion.

In July 2008, a federal judge ruled that the cross is constitutional after the federal government obtained the land the cross sits on through a special act of Congress. He rationalized this decision by saying that the primary effect of this prominent cross is "patriotic and nationalistic, not religious." Today's argument before the 9th Circuit is an appeal of that decision.

We will argue that the federal government’s acquisition of the land in 2006 was nothing more than an effort to evade a long series of clear court decisions invalidating the city of San Diego’s display of the 43-foot tall cross. (The first lawsuit against this particular cross was brought in 1989, on behalf of an atheist Vietnam War veteran.) Courts have routinely recognized that governmental displays of distinctly sectarian symbols, such as crosses, violate the First Amendment.

The ACLU has always defended the First Amendment rights of individuals to freely practice their religion, or no religion at all. But the government's display of the Soledad cross violates that same First Amendment right by privileging one set of beliefs over all others.

Or put it this way: A giant cross in front of a church or on your front lawn is fine, and we'd defend your constitutional right to these displays. But a giant cross on government land is not.

See the difference?

We hope the 9th Circuit does.

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Anonymous

If we could go back in time, and ask the people that died for our freedom "Would you like to know that the very freedom you're dying for will be used to remove your grave site"... Do you think they would still fight? You don't even know what civil and liberty mean, nor cost... sickening

Geoff Kelly

Of course you don't want comments. I'll bet you don't think too much of military either. ACLU used to be a great organization until it was highjacked by some extraordinarily narrow-minded individuals with clear sociological and ideological agendas. It is heartbreaking.

Believer

Soon everything will be government funded so what makes the difference?

Steve Schlicht

The ACLU is just fine and this is the correct position to take. American Jewish and atheist war veterans exist as do Buddhists, Muslims, Wiccan, pagan and other ideologies in our diverse nation. One religion should not be endorsed and established as representative of government authority. Move the Christian symbol to a nearby church, there are no shortages of them to be sure.

P. M. Prescott

This is one case I fully support your efforts. "this prominent cross is 'patriotic and nationalistic, not religious.'" This is what the "establishment clause" specifically prohibits! Patriotism and the government should be nuetral.

American

ONE NATION UNDER GOD Are you going to fight to remove that too? If so than you are obviously NOT for americans, but rather terrorists fighting to difle the very reason what the United States was founded on.

roald

American, look up the history of one nation... If you trust me, I'll save you the effort. It was added in 1954 to appease the right-wing nut cases who began to sell off our freedoms to be protected from the Reds. The ACLU continues to get it right as they support individual religious rights in the face of State efforts to create a State religion.

Anonymous

I need to say this, you are going way too far with this separation of religion and state crap... You need to brush up on your history of this country. This LAW was created to keep the government out of Our "FREEDOM OF RELIGION"... The government has every right to have their freedoms too. Organizations like yourselves are messing with our freedoms... Who cares if a cross offends you. This is the problem with AMERICA today. People don't know how to stay out of other peoples business. If a government official wants a cross outside, it's their business, not yours. Your keeping Jesus Christ out of America is hurting us. We used to be a prosperous nation until you went and Took God out of it. Our Schools used be a good place until you took God out of it. Now we have school shootings and drugs being sold in them. It's all because you people want God out of it and he can't protect the schools anymore. Say goodbye to our Military if you are taking God out of that too. I think you need to think about minding more important issues like how are we going to keep drugs and murderers off our city streets. Maybe if our Government PRAYED more we wouldn't be having such issues with this either. Jesus will always be with you and with this country because we pray, that is what is keeping this country alive today! People like us who care about others and not just ourselves.

Anonymous

The law is to protect religion from government, not the other way around!

Anonymous

A cross is a cross, yes it is. So you defend the 1st Amendment? then how could ACLU defend the right of a child to wear braids to school because it is how his religion or belief goes by? Too contradictory for my taste which translates into less credibility to the ACLU.

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