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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

News releases:  5/11/2010  |  4/28/2010  |  10/06/2009  |  6/08/2009  |  4/09/2007

ADF condemns theft of Mojave Cross

Memorial to World War I veterans was subject of recent Supreme Court case
Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Courtesy Scott Wright

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Alliance Defense Fund—jointly involved in a project with the American Legion and the American Legion Department of California to defend veterans’ memorials across the country—is strongly condemning the theft of the Mojave Cross veterans’ memorial from the California desert.

“This is a cowardly and criminal act that dishonors heroes who have given their lives for our country. Those who deny our heritage and religious liberty will not succeed through vandalism under cover of darkness,” said ADF Senior Counsel Joseph Infranco. “What the ACLU could not accomplish in court, intolerant cowards are now trying to do through crime. Tearing down this monument is a criminal act, but it also demonstrates a hostility to the nation’s history and the First Amendment. This is a growing threat, but ADF and its alliance of 1,600 attorneys stand ready to defend America’s veterans’ memorials.”

Courtesy Scott Wright

On April 28, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Salazar v. Buono that a land transfer initiated by Congress that passed the land under the monument back into the hands of a private veterans’ group was not unconstitutional. Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund, Advocates for Faith and Freedom, and the American Legion Department of California filed a friend-of-the-court brief in June 2009 that argued for the lifting of a court order which had required the memorial to be covered up. The order was the result of a suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a former Mojave Preserve employee who claimed he was “offended” by the cross.

Various forms of the memorial cross have existed at the location ever since 1934 when the Veterans of Foreign Wars placed it at the spot where it stood until it was stolen, most likely late Sunday night or early Monday morning.

The Defense of Veterans’ Memorials Project spearheaded by ADF, the American Legion Department of California, and the Liberty Institute seeks to defend America’s veterans’ memorials from attack in the courts. 

  • Photos (courtesy of Scott Wright) of missing Mojave Cross memorial: Close-up | Distant
  • Pronunciation guide: Infranco (In-frank-o)
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.
 

U.S. Supreme Court says Mojave Cross veterans’ memorial can stay

ADF, American Legion Dept. of Calif. argued for constitutionality of memorial, land transfer
Wednesday, April 28, 2010

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a cross-shaped veterans’ memorial currently covered up by a box in California’s Mojave Desert can stay right where it is. In a 5–4 decision, the court determined that an act of Congress transferring the land under the memorial to a veterans’ group was constitutional and additionally noted that “the Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion’s role in society.”

Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund, Advocates for Faith and Freedom, and the American Legion Department of California filed a friend-of-the-court brief in June 2009 that argued for the lifting of a court order which required the memorial to be covered up. The order was the result of a suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a former Mojave Preserve employee who claims he was “offended” by the cross.

“The ACLU and its allies should not be able to demolish war memorials based on the objection of one person who can’t seriously claim to have suffered harm from it,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence.  “Americans want memorials to our nations’ fallen heroes protected. Congress was doing just that when it transferred the land under this memorial to the veterans’ group that cares for it.”

“A passive monument acknowledging our nation’s religious heritage cannot be interpreted as an establishment of religion,” added ADF Senior Counsel Joseph Infranco. “To make that accusation, one must harbor both a hostility to the nation’s history and a deep misunderstanding of the First Amendment.”

The court’s opinion states, “The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm.  A cross by the side of a public highway marking, for instance, the place where a state trooper perished need not be taken as a statement of governmental support for sectarian beliefs.  The Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion’s role in society.”

In 2001, the ACLU sued the National Park Service on behalf of retired Mojave Preserve Assistant Superintendent Frank Buono, who falsely claimed that NPS denied a Buddhist colleague’s application to install a Buddhist symbol near the memorial. Both the colleague and the story turned out to be fictitious, but Buono, who fabricated the story, himself claimed to be offended by the cross and continued the lawsuit.

Various forms of the memorial cross have existed at the location ever since 1934 when the Veterans of Foreign Wars placed it at its current spot.  In 2004, Congress authorized the transfer of the one acre of land under the cross back to the VFW, a private organization, in exchange for five acres of other land.  The ACLU argued that the land transfer was unconstitutional, and a district court judge agreed. ADF provided funding for a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the National Legal Foundation in an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which upheld the lower court’s decision. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to accept review of the case, Salazar v. Buono, and the court heard oral argument on Oct. 7, 2009.

The Defense of Veterans’ Memorials Project spearheaded by ADF, the American Legion Department of California, and Liberty Legal Institute seeks to defend America’s veterans’ memorials from attack in the courts.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.
 
 
 

ADF attorney available for media interviews at U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday

High Court will hear arguments in landmark veterans’ memorial case
Tuesday, October 06, 2009

WHO: ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence
WHAT: Available for media interviews following oral arguments in Salazar v. Buono
WHEN: Wednesday, Oct. 7, following oral arguments which begin at 10 a.m. EDT
WHERE: Steps of U.S. Supreme Court Building, Washington 

Salazar v. Buono: What’s at Stake?

·         May a party who has suffered no harm – a party who is merely “offended” – sue to eradicate religious references on public monuments, memorials, and at public events, regardless of the context of those references?

·         Will the ACLU and its allies continue to receive special treatment for “offended observers” who’ve suffered no harm, or will they finally have to follow the same strong requirements for filing Establishment Clause claims that apply to every other federal lawsuit?

·         May the government resolve disputes over memorials with religious content in a way that allows the memorial to remain displayed, or must the government always eradicate or censor the religious display as the ACLU and its allies demand?

WASHINGTON
— Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence will be available for media interviews following oral arguments Wednesday before the U.S.  Supreme Court in a landmark case involving a cross-shaped veterans’ memorial currently covered up by a box in California’s Mojave Desert.

Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund, Advocates for Faith and Freedom, and the American Legion Department of California filed a friend-of-the-court brief in June that argues for the lifting of a court order which required the memorial to be covered up. The order was the result of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a man who claims he was “offended” by the cross.

L.A. Times Dust-Up

A four-day online debate between Joseph Infranco and Erwin Chemerinsky on the Supreme Court case Salazar v. Buono
“The ACLU and its allies should not be able to demolish war memorials based on the objection of one person who lives 1,000 miles away and can’t seriously claim to have suffered harm from it,” said Lorence.  “Federal courts prohibit 'offended observers' to sue under every other provision of the Constitution, so why should the ACLU have this weapon of destruction at its disposal for the purpose of dishonoring the sacrifice of American heroes? If the Mojave Cross Memorial is not allowed to stand, then numerous other veterans’ memorials will be vulnerable to legal attack.  Americans want memorials to our nations’ fallen heroes protected.”

Source: www.courtzero.org
In 2001, the ACLU sued the National Park Service on behalf of a retired park employee because other permanent religious displays had not been erected at the site.  Various forms of the memorial cross have existed at the location ever since 1934 when the Veterans of Foreign Wars placed it at its current spot.  In 2004, Congress authorized the transfer of the one acre of land under the cross back to the VFW, a private organization, in exchange for five acres of other land.  The ACLU argued that the land transfer was unconstitutional, and a federal district judge agreed.
 
“Honoring the memory of thousands of American heroes in a way that has been considered constitutional throughout our nation’s history should not be invalidated simply because one person says he’s ‘offended’ by the memorial,” said Lorence.

ADF funded a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the National Legal Foundation in an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which upheld the lower court’s decision. On Feb. 23, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that they would accept review of the case, Salazar v. Buono. In the meantime, the memorial remains covered by a plywood box.

The Defense of Veterans’ Memorials Project spearheaded by ADF, the American Legion Department of California, and Liberty Legal Institute seeks to defend America’s veterans’ memorials from attack in the courts.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.