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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Supreme Court Considers Cross In Mojave National Preserve

Excerpts below from an Associated Press article today.  For full details on the case, see this ScotusWiki entry. The Libertarian Party platform says "We favor the freedom to engage in or abstain from any religious activities that do not violate the rights of others. We oppose government actions which either aid or attack any religion."

The Supreme Court is taking up a long-running legal fight over a cross honoring World War I soldiers that has stood for 75 years on public land in a remote part of California. The [5 to 8 ft. high] cross, on an outcrop known as Sunrise Rock in the Mojave National Preserve, has been covered in plywood for the past several years following federal court rulings that it violates the First Amendment prohibition against government endorsement of religion.

A former National Park Service employee, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, sued to have the cross removed or covered after the agency refused to allow erection of a Buddhist memorial nearby. Easter Sunrise services have been held at the site for decades.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has repeatedly ruled in Buono's favor. Congress has intervened on behalf of the cross, prohibiting the Park Service from spending money to remove the cross, designating it a national memorial and ultimately transferring the land to private ownership. The appeals court invalidated the 2004 land transfer, saying that "carving out a tiny parcel of property in the midst of this vast preserve — like a doughnut hole with the cross atop it — will do nothing to minimize the impermissible governmental endorsement" of the religious symbol.

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