Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Religious Display Case

February 23, 2009

Judges Should Affirm That Large Cross In National Preserve Violates First Amendment, ACLU Says

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court today agreed to hear a challenge to a congressional law allowing an eight-foot-tall Latin cross to remain in the Mojave National Preserve by transferring ownership of an acre of land within the preserve to the local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which is now defunct. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California that this transfer of federal land did not eliminate the government's endorsement of religion, and thus did not solve the Establishment Clause violation that the lower courts had already found. The government appealed that decision.

The following should be attributed to Peter Eliasberg, managing attorney with the ACLU of Southern California:

"We are disappointed that the Supreme Court agreed to review this case, but not surprised given that it challenges a congressional statute. The appeals court rightly found that the statute did not solve the Establishment Clause problem created by a large cross in the midst of a National Preserve; in fact, it compounded the problem by continuing to favor this one religious symbol that had already been granted unique access to federal property. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will affirm the appeals court's decision and send a clear message that the federal government must not endorse one religion over another.”

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