ACLU Supreme Court

The Supreme Court and the Mojave Cross


The LA Times has an editorial about the Mojave cross decision. It begins like this:

The Supreme Court on Wednesday sent a simple — and disturbing — message in a complicated ruling about an 8-foot cross in California’s Mojave National Preserve. The message is that the government can treat the preeminent Christian symbol as a national emblem and display it on public property.

Here’s the rest.

On Wednesday, in a 5/4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the much squabbled over cross, erected years ago on federal parkland in the Mojave Desert, may stay. The cross was originally put up to honor war veterans but, for years, it has been a symbol of disagreement over the sometimes ill-defined boundary between church and state.

Here’s more back story.

Although the ruling to some degree split along the usual political lines (5/4 with Kennedy the swing vote), it was nonetheless a decision that pretty much split the baby and gave no one faction exactly what it wanted.

For instance, this is what the LA Times reported:

In a shift away from strict church-state separation, the Supreme Court gave its approval Wednesday to displaying a Christian cross on government land to honor the war dead, saying the Constitution “does not require the eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm.”

Speaking for a divided court, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said the 1st Amendment calls for a middle-ground “policy of accommodation” toward religious displays on public land, not a total ban on symbols of faith.

And CNN added:

But even among the conservatives who voted to allow the cross to stand, there was strong disagreement about how similar disputes should be settled, an indication of the contentious nature of church-and-state cases.

And here is the opening of what the Wall Street Journal had to say.

It ended not with a bang, but a whimper.

What else to say about the Mojave Desert Cross opinion, handed down on Wednesday by the Supreme Court? The case could have been a contender (to quote Brando in ‘Waterfront’): it had a vivid factual setup and a great legal question concerning the separation of church and state.

But the Court on Wednesday handed down a fractured opinion with a less-than-riveting impact: the court kicked the case back to the district court for reconsideration. Even Justice Anthony Kennedy, the author of the plurality opinion, conceded the case wasn’t exactly a blockbuster. The case, according to Justice Kennedy, made no “sweeping pronouncements” on the line between church and state….

As is often the case, one of the best and fullest reports on what the court did on Wedenesday comes from NPR’s Nina Totenberg.


  • Oh no! Not Nina totenberg again! How can anyone stand to listen to her?

    C: much squabbled over cross

    Yeah, one guy from Idaho or somewhere drives out to the middle of a desert in California to be offended, and suddenly it’s a “squabble.” This should have been dismissed before the first hearing. The ACLU looks silly over this.

    Anyway, I’m offended at your hate speech against Christians, and I don’t have to prove that you hate Christians because I’m invoking the liberal rule that the accuser of hate is automatically assumed to have moral superiority.

    …Oh, wait. You mean that it’s okay to bash Christianity but we have to defend Islam? If the symbol was a crescent rather than a cross, nothing would be said? I forgot the rules.

    (Will a comment like this get me banned on Monday? I need to know. Maybe you can score each comment this week to give us an idea about the new commenting rules.)

    1) A group of WWI veterans, in 1934, erected a simple white cross on a rock to stand as a memorial to their fallen comrades in the remote desert.

    2) Congress established the area as a National Preserve 60 years later in 1994.

    3) In 1999 the ACLU of Southern California requested that the NPS remove the Cross.

    The cross, in my opinion, should have been grandfathered in to the National Preserve as a part of the history of the area. This is a no-brainer except to the four liberal morons on the Supreme Court.

    If we look at the vast majority of War Monuments and Memorials owned by the US Government, they contain thousands upon thousands of crosses. The ACLU would want us to put bags over all of these as well. (browse these pages to thousands of crosses)

    “A Latin cross is not merely a reaffirmation of Christian beliefs,” Judge Kennedy wrote. “Here, a Latin cross in the desert evokes far more than religion. It evokes thousands of small crosses in foreign fields marking the graves of Americans who fell in battles, battles whose tragedies are compounded if the fallen are forgotten.”

    To see those thousands of crosses mentioned by Justice Kennedy on Government Soil, click on any the links above.

  • The two massive Navajo Sun Gods, carved into a Granite cliff in Joshua Tree National Park, stand 50 meters (165 feet) and 34.5 meters (114 feet) tall and were built around the second century by native Indians, will be destroyed by the NPS, as ordered by the 9th circuit court.

    The American Christian Lutheran Unitarians (ALCU) who in 1994 demanded that these pagan religious statues be destroyed, because they violated the division between church and state, announce the destruction of the statues which had offended them for the last 15 years.

    Reverend Eliasberg who represents the American Christian Lutheran Unitarians (ACLU) said, “No other group is allowed to erect a religious symbol. This creates a situation in which the federal government favors Pagan expression over any other.” He went on to say, “The courts have consistently held that a permanent religious fixture on federal land is a violation of the U.S. Constitution”.

    Explosives, tanks, and anti-aircraft weapons will be used to blow apart two colossal images of the Arapaho Sun Gods in Joshua Tree, 230 kilometers (150 miles) from Los Angeles Ca.

    The Navajo Sun-God, Johano-ai, starts each morning from his home in the east and rides across the skies to his home in the west. He carries with him his shining gold disk, the sun. He has five horses–a horse of turquoise, one of white shell, one of pearly shell, one of red shell, and one of coal. Statues of Sun God

    The world community — from Russia to Malaysia, Germany to Sri Lanka, and, — has expressed horror at the statues destruction. Many Constitutional scholars condemned the 9th circuit’s interpretation of the constitution as wrong-headed and damaging to the image of the USA.

  • Totenberg: “Unanswered in today’s ruling is whether the government could constitutionally erect the cross itself on its own property.”

    I disagree, and think that anyone supporting the constitution would say that the federal/state/local government has no business erecting any sort of religious display on public land. Now, that is far different in this case as the Cross was not erected by government nor was it on national public land. It was erected by private citizens on land that was not designated public (though it was) and remained there for decades. Pokey is correct, it should have been grandfathered in. Good decision by the court, not necessarily good reasoning behind it.

  • Uhhh, Yekop, your photo is of a Buddah in Afghanistan destroyed by the Taliban. Don’t you think you should have mentioned that SOMEWHERE in your comment? Or did I miss your point about the uproar entirely?

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