Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Constitution and the Cross

The Supreme Court will decide the case (Salazar v.Buono) of a cross displayed on federal land that has been deeded to a private entity. The Court must decide if the cross violates the Constitution. The title of this post is a link to a New York Times article on the case.

If the Supreme Court rules that the cross will have to be removed, what impact will that have on such displays in government owned cemeteries? Is it enough that monuments representing many faiths are present?

My law and religion professor, Douglas Laycock, is opposing the display of the cross. The NPR article raises more issues. Usually my professor is on religion's and the winning side.

The Wall Street Journal article makes the point that the government should not be hostile to religion. Where do we draw the line? The authors represent the Veterans of Foreign Wars, The American Legion, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and the American Ex-Prisoners of War as amici curiae in Salazar v. Buono.

If the Supreme Court allowed the cross, any government entity could display a religious symbol to the exclusion of others. I believe the Supreme Court will decide that the cross must be removed unless other religious monuments are allowed in the same area. Buddhists were denied the right to their own monument on this federal land. Their monument would dilute the symbolism of the solitary cross. The addition of other monuments would be the equivalent of what occurs in cemeteries and allowable.

Photo courtesy Liberty Legal Institute

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