A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a unanimous decision in 2011, after many years of contentions litigation, declaring a 29 foot tall Christian cross erected on public land is unconstitutional because it conveys a message of government endorsement of religion in clear violation of the First Amendment Establish Clause.
In 2012, the Supreme Court refused to take the case. Thus the decision of the federal Circuit Court of Appeals is final and constitutes the settled law of the case, right?
Wrong, several Republican U.S. Congressmen are insisting today. That’s because when it comes to their own privately held Christian religion they have no problem whatsoever with violating their solemn oaths to uphold the Constitution, including the First Amendment.
They’re Christians and they want to nullify the Establishment Clause.
The Court of Appeals noted that this same huge Christian cross was dedicated on Easter Sunday in La Jolla, CA, and used for religious gatherings on public government property for nearly three decades before it became part of a memorial dedicated in 1954 in honor of Korean War veterans. It also acknowledged that the community of La Jolla has a "well-documented history" of anti-Semitism from the 1920s to around 1970.
Never-the-less, instead of simply removing the cross from public property as the court has ordered; instead of perhaps erecting it elsewhere in a private setting where no one would object to it, the American Center for Law and Justice filed a brief in U.S. District Court on behalf of 18 GOP members of Congress in yet another legal effort to have the court ignore the Establishment Clause.
ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow said putting the memorial in the hands of a private nonprofit group, the Mount Soledad Memorial Association, would be an appropriate alternative to removing the memorial's cross. "We're urging the court to permit a private organization to obtain and operate the war memorial – a remedy that would remove any constitutional questions and protect this longstanding tribute to our men and women in uniform," says Sekulow.
City officials maintain that this Christian cross is part of a secular war memorial embraced by San Diego area residents who in 2005 overwhelmingly approved a measure to preserve it by donating it to the federal government.
They actually believe that a Christian cross sends a secular message and that the religious display is OK if they’ve donated it to the federal government. So they donated just that part of the land under the cross to the federal government, but simply can’t understand now why the courts have said that ruse doesn’t render the display constitutional.
Religionists will do anything to try to get around the Establishment Clause.
Officials for the city of DeLand, Fla., for example, are also fighting to keep a Christian cross displayed prominently on their city seal despite the fact that the religious symbol constitutes a clear endorsement of religion by the city in violation of the Establishment Clause.
"This is an intrusion of religion into the world of government," explained Rabbi Merrill Shapiro, president of the Flagler County chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "And the world of government and the world of religion should be separate as called for in the First Amendment of the United States constitution.”When the government establishes a Christian cross as part of its official seal, it tends to make non-Christians feel "like second-class citizens."
Not surprisingly, the City is taking the position that a Christian cross is not religious. "Nothing in the history of the city's seal suggests that it was adopted to promote any particular religion or even religion in general," declared DeLand City Attorney Darren Elkind.
Christian crosses are not religious symbols.
Christian crosses are secular symbols.
That’s the type of excuses we get when religiously oriented lawmakers fight perpetually to nullify the Establishment Clause.