Free Speech Religion Supreme Court

The Lawyer, the Cross & the Supremes


The Los Angeles Daily Journal-
–the publication that lawyers and judges read—has an interesting article about attorney Peter Eliasberg and the unlikely case about a cross on an out of the way piece of public land, that will heard before the Supreme Court in October. (Chapeau tip to the always excellent How Appealing)

Here is the opening:

When Los Angeles-based American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Peter J. Eliasberg first heard about a controversial cross erected on federal land, it didn’t seem like a case that would end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.

They never do.

But 10 years later, Eliasberg is frantically preparing for his first argument
before the high court in an Establishment Clause case that is one of the highlights of the term that begins Oct. 5.


The case that will bring him to the Supreme Court on Oct. 7 grew out of a long-running religious dispute over a cross in the Mojave Desert that was erected to commemorate war veterans but has instead sparked years of debate about the proper roles of church and state.

At issue is whether the 9th Circuit was correct to bar the federal government from transferring to the Veterans of Foreign Wars a parcel of land in the Mojave National Preserve on which the cross sits in exchange for another parcel of equal value.

Further details of the case-–Salazar v. Buono—may be found here.

This case has roughly a zillion implications, so will be worth watching.


  • Any questions about judicial priorities in the Polanski case pale in relation to this. If an ACLU lawyer doesn’t have something more pressing to look at than a cross in the Mojave Desert, he needs to consider another career. Totally asinine to make an issue of this, although it’s obvious that the VFW are a bunch of stale crackers acting in total disregard for the country’s actual – as opposed to imagined – war dead, whose spectrum of beliefs and non-beliefs have been undeniably broader than the cramped, Neanderthal minds of the aging beer-sippers down at the local hall. But making an issue of something this minor and remote is a waste of time and fodder for morons. (We’ll see the tiresome pathologies of Wingnuttia emerge with the usual calculated, phony outrage on this thread. I’m out of it. )

  • Is there any time at all where Reg can simply comment on an issue without attacking people? Yet we’re the wing nuts. That he talks smack about football pointed already to his odd personality, among countless other things, but there nothing compared to his having to make every piece an attack piece on someone. A hate junkie and nothing more.

  • Suits me fine. If that’s the priorities of the ACLU, then they won’t have as much time hurting other of our country’s traditions and our security.

    I have concluded that ACLU lawyers and members are vampires and can repulsed by holding up a cross.



  • (So much for trying to draw a cross on Celeste’s site. Her computer has been programed to remove crosses, so it must be member of the ACLU, too.)

  • Surefire’s first comment here: “Is there any time at all where Reg can simply comment on an issue without attacking people?”

    Surefire’s first comment on the Polanski thread:

    “Total Bullshit Celeste, what are you thinking, have you lost your mind?…

    …This is the most pathetic thing I have ever seen you post, absolutely shameful!!!”

  • This certainly is the kind of thing that makes the ACLU look absurd to the general public, to get so exercised over a cross in the middle of nowhere. Yes, it’s a case of screwy priorities, and someone wanting a name for himself. But I disagree with reg’s opening statement that “Any question about judicial priorities in the Polanski case pale in comparison to this.”

    To the contrary, it’s the literally life and death issues that the DA’s office has been mishandling (NOT just Polanski, who’s the least sympathetic example imaginable, but Lisker, Peagler and more like them) which cut to the heart of our judicial system. That level of power, which even has international reach and ramifications, being under the scrutiny and oversight of no one, is truly scary. And reg, you don’t live in LA so are unaware of all the fuss that’s been appropriately made about the fact that thousands of rape evidence kits – each representing a victim seeking justice that’s not been served, a perp on the streets NOW not found and prosecuted – have not been tested for lack of funds.

    The LAPD finally got on track last year after years of persistent effort by a few committed officials (ahead of the far better-funded county sheriff’s office), but the media was woefully silent on the matter: that’s not a “sexy” issue until it becomes attached to a celebrity, in this case a 76-year old one who’s no threat to society, but will be made an example of and become a cause celebre for all sorts of assorted characters in the drama of the show trial.

  • WBC – you’re absolutely right that the Polanski case is more serious. I was trying to say that this cross thing is far more trivial use of judicial resources. I’m not sure if that means we agree or disagree on my intended characterization. Whichever way one perceives the Polanski case, it’s definitely more consequential. And I wasn’t addressing the other issues you bring up, which strike me as more serious than either of the cases posted on because current victims in pending cases are apparently being hung out to dry.

  • By the way, the issue in this case—on which I have no stand, I just think it’s intriguing—is not if the cross can be let to remain, but whether it can be left on public land if the symbols of other religions have been specifically turned away.

    The case itself is trivial and, I agree, I’m sick to death of these cases that try to remove lovely things—that happen to be religious in nature—from public land. We’ve gone nuts on this matter. But this case, however odd, will be precedent setting at the Supreme Court level—whichever way it goes.

    That’s the reason I draw your attention to it.

  • Celeste, I see your point about it setting precedents, and the issue of separation of church and state. But after reading the DJ article, which notes that Eliasberg’s client is a Christian “with no reason to be offended by the cross” especially as he lives in Oregon and never even sees it, this case seems especially specious and a desire for attention on part of both client and attorney. (Who is described as relishing the attention.) So I think I agree with reg that this is “a trivial use of judicial resources.”

  • I don’t disagree about anything either of you are saying about the issue. (I think the client, by the way, is a former park worker, or some such, who moved out of state. Not that it matters.)

    Yet, as it’s reached the Supreme Court, it is worth our while to watch as the decision will be of consequence.

    But as to why the case is bothered with at all….that’s another matter. I’m with ya’ll on that count.

  • I did really like this lawyer’s wife’s character on The Shield. Apparently Catherine Dent is an activist for issues related to church/state separation:

    (Still think this case is silly. And going to this Supreme Court with so little actually at stake is dangerous in terms of the penchant for setting bad precedent.)

  • You’re a silly man Reg, I have plenty of comments of yours that I could post but why bother. The difference here is I responded to a post by Celeste, your comments here were directed at those, like me, who hadn’t even spoken.

    You said…(We’ll see the tiresome pathologies of Wingnuttia emerge with the usual calculated, phony outrage on this thread. I’m out of it. ) than posted 4 more times.

    Nice call as usual.

  • comment: “big movement with liberals to deny our country’s Christian heritage

    Were Native Americans Indians Christian? Or have the Christians’ denying others of their right NOT to have Christianity imposed on them???

    Keep church and state separate b/c not all of us care about the church; some care for the mosques, temples, synagogue, etc…and some are atheist. So all have a right not to have another person’s belief imposed upon them.

    Just trying to be objective here.

  • Classic idiot (or biased) journalism. Nowhere does it mention that this cross was erected in the ’30s. That wouldn’t fit with the narrative that this “was erected” and is news. No wonder nobody trusts journalists any more.


    Isn’t there some social “statue of limitations” where we can just leave things alone?

    This is part of a national attack against Christianity, and I find it repulsive, dangerous and misguided.

  • Celeste showed the “Before Picture” above. Maybe you should see the current “After Picture.”

    Save Our Memorials

    Tearing down and covering up the cross makes liberals happy…ignoring the Christian heritage and principles that have guided our nation and our Presidents through both war and peace. The liberals want any symbol torn down and speech removed that reminds them that there is a God who passes judgment on individual choices and actions rather than allowing liberals to say, “If it feels good, do it,” without consequences.

    CCD, it’s not too late for you.

  • Oh you are right…oh please, save me! save me!

    Shows what kind of church you go to…I thought GOD does NOT judge and that we are ALL his children. WWJD???

    Go take your “holier than thou” attitude and thump your narrow-minded interpretation of the Bible somewhere else where people will ASS-U-ME you are right. For all those who actually know and read The Book knows that you are WRONG.

    God will strike you down for using his name for your own retarded purposes. Thank God there’s no Church of Woody.

  • Romans 12:16 (NLT)
    Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!

    Romans 12:2 (NLT)
    Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

    …guess Woody didn’t get to this yet. Change your old ways of thinking Woody, its not to late for YOU. God loves us ALL.

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