Court told Mount Soledad site ‘serves a legitimate civic purpose,’ honoring ‘patriotism’.
A flashpoint for “church-state” debate since 1989, the Mount Soledad Memorial cross near San Diego has been ordered to be left alone and then to be torn down. It’s been ruled constitutional and unconstitutional.
But it’s still there, and a new brief submitted to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals argues it should remain untouched, based on a new U.S. Supreme Court precedent.
The case originated because someone was “offended” by the Christian symbol at the veterans memorial. It’s the third cross at the site since the first was erected in 1913.
The case has been up and down the court ladder, including to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the latest ruling, a district judge determined the cross must be removed. But he stayed his decision while other courts weigh in.
The brief filed with the 9th Circuit on behalf of a long list of organizations contends the “historical practice of memorializing fallen members of the armed services with a cross” has been well documented.
The memorial, the brief further argues, is constitutional because it has no other purpose than to memorialize veterans.
They are representing the Public Advocate of the United States, the Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, the Abraham Lincoln Foundation for Public Policy Research, Institute on the Constitution and the Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund.
The cross should stay, the groups say, because of a new standard for such decisions established this year by the Supreme Court.
The brief explains that the USJF had been involved in the case since 1996, filing multiple briefs on the issue over the years.
For decades, courts have been aimless in their decisions on such disputes, but that came to an end with the Supreme Court’s decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway, the brief asserts.
The decision revived the ruling in Marsh v. Chambers from four decades ago, which drew a line between matters belonging to the state and matters belonging to the church. It ruled “that so long as prayer addresses the corporate duties and needs of civil government, not the personal duties and needs of individuals, then prayer – even sectarian prayer – is constitutionally permissible.”
The decision also recognized that government cannot coerce people into religion, but the law does not ban “merely offending some individuals.”
Written by BOB UNRUH
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