Salazar v. Buono Decided

April 28, 2010

Whether a congressional statute transferring a small parcel of land in the Mojave Desert National Preserve to private owners satisfies the government's obligation to cure the Establishment Clause violation created by a Latin cross on public land, when the government also designates the cross as a national memorial and retains a reversionary interest in the land.

After a federal court in California declared that a Latin cross on public land in the Mojave Desert National Preserve violated the Establishment Clause, and ordered the government to remove it, Congress transferred the small parcel of land underneath the cross to a private owner who promised to maintain the cross at its present location. In addition, Congress designated the cross as a national memorial and retained a reversionary interest in the land. The lower courts found that this congressional action was insufficient to cure the Establishment Clause violation. The ACLU represents a former Park Service Employee who still visits the Preserve on a regular basis.

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