ADF: Supreme Court decision on Mojave Cross bolsters defense of Mt. Soledad memorialADF submits supplementary letter brief in Mt. Soledad case on behalf of American Legion Dept. of Calif.
Friday, June 11, 2010
SAN DIEGO — The Alliance Defense Fund submitted a supplementary letter brief Thursday on behalf of The American Legion Department of California to provide additional defense of the Mt. Soledad veterans’ memorial in light of the latest decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on another veterans’ memorial in California, the Mojave Cross.
ADF attorneys filed a friend-of-the-court brief in March 2009 on behalf of The American Legion Department of California in defense of the 55-year-old Mt. Soledad cross after the American Civil Liberties Union and atheist Steve Trunk challenged its constitutionality. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit heard oral argument in December.
“One person’s agenda shouldn’t diminish the sacrifices made by America’s veterans and their families,” said ADF Senior Counsel Joseph Infranco. “As the U.S. Supreme Court stated just weeks ago, ‘[A] Latin cross is not merely a reaffirmation of Christian beliefs. It is a symbol often used to honor and respect those whose heroic acts, noble contributions, and patient striving help secure an honored place in history for this Nation and its people.’”
The ADF letter explains that the April decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in Salazar v. Buono regarding the Mojave Cross makes clear that any religious significance associated with the cross does not render it constitutionally ‘off limits’ for public memorials, like the one at Mt. Soledad. The letter quotes the high court: “The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement [of religion] does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm…. The Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion’s role in society.”
For almost 20 years, multiple lawsuits have been filed in an attempt to tear down the 29-foot cross on Mt. Soledad. In 2005, 76 percent of San Diego voters chose to preserve the cross by transferring the memorial from city property to the ownership of the U.S. Department of the Interior. In 2006, Congress passed a law that officially transferred ownership. The ACLU unsuccessfully challenged the constitutionality of the land transfer.
A district court also rejected a claim by the ACLU and Trunk that the cross itself is unconstitutional. They appealed that ruling to the 9th Circuit, where the case, Trunk v. City of San Diego, is now pending.
Photo: Cross at Mt. Soledad Veterans’ Memorial
Photo: ADF Senior Counsel Joseph Infranco at a 2006 press conference at the Mt. Soledad Memorial
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 President Alan Sears is co-author with Craig Osten of the book The ACLU vs. America.