Efforts to Save Veterans Memorials

By Attorney Rees Lloyd
May 31, 2010

As Americans gather to remember and honor their war dead at veterans memorials in Memorial Day observances, there have been significant developments in the two most important cases pending regarding the ACLU’s attempts to destroy veterans memorials by Establishment of Religion Clause legal attacks brought on behalf of plaintiffs who complain they are “offended” by the sight of a cross honoring veterans. Those cases are: The Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial Cross Case and the Mount Soledad National Veterans Memorial Cross case. They are certain to be landmarks affecting generations of Americans.

The first case, the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial Cross Case (Salazar v. Buono) involves a 10-year-long ACLU lawsuit attack on a memorial established by members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) in 1934 to honor WWI veterans. It consisted of an unadorned eight-foot metal cross bolted on a rock outcrop known as Sunrise Rock, eleven miles off the highway in the desert.

The U.S. Supreme Court, on April 28, 2010, overturned orders to destroy the cross which the U.S. District Court in Riverside, CA, issued in 2002, and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal ordered enforced, at the request of ACLU. The Supreme Court remanded the Mojave Cross Case to the District Court for further proceedings consistent with its ruling. (See, for more details on the ruling and history of the case)

A major new development in the Mojave Case is that on the night of May 9-10, 2010, approximately ten days after the Supreme Court ruled, criminal secular extremists desecrated the memorial by tearing down and carrying away the cross. They have not yet been captured. (Discussed below.)

The second case, the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial Cross Case (Trunk, et al., vs. City of San Diego, et al.), is now in the 21st year of ACLU-backed litigation to destroy the cross there by plaintiffs “offended” by it. The Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial, established in 1954, contains six concentric walls bearing some 2,700 plaques honoring veterans, leading up to a 29-foot tall cross at the pinnacle of Mt. Soledad, where there has been a cross, in one form or another, since 1913. (See, www.soledadmemorial.com)

The Mt. Soledad Case is pending in the 9th Circuit on the appeal of the ACLU from the decision of the U.S. District Court in San Diego that the cross does not violate the Establishment of Religion Clause. That court held that a “reasonable person” would understand that the cross is there in order to symbolize the selfless service and sacrifice of veterans, not to endorse any particular religion.

An important development is that the 9th Circuit has now issued an order to the parties for additional legal briefs to be filed in the Mt. Soledad case “on the application of Salazar v. Buono, — S.Ct. —-, 2010 WL 1687118 (2010), to this case. ” (Order issued in Case 3:06-cv-01597-LAB -WMC Trunk, et al v. City of San Diego, et al, USCA Order, May 26, 2010.)

Both the cases, while presenting factual differences, include an Act of Congress transferring a memorial which includes a cross. Further, the language in the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 Mojave Cross decision written by Justice Kennedy pertaining to inclusion of a cross at a veterans memorial, or more general use of a cross in the public realm, appears to firmly reject the ACLU’s extreme secular position, and to be equally applicable to the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial cross. Thus, the order is seen as encouraging by attorneys for veterans fighting the ACLU.

San Diego attorney Charles LiMandri, Regional Director of the Thomas More Law Center, has been the lead attorney fighting the ACLU to save Mt. Soledad “as it is, where it is” in state and federal courts for nearly all of the now twenty-one years that the veterans memorial has been under attack by the ACLU. He said of this latest development:

“We’re encouraged that the 9th circuit appears to be taking seriously the new U.S. Supreme Court precedent which recognizes the right of veterans to have memorials of their choice honoring them for their service, even it means using a cross symbolizing their sacrifice.”

Joseph Infranco, Sr. Attorney of the Alliance Defense Fund which is representing The American Legion Department of California as friend of the court, said: The Supreme Court gave clear guidance in the Mojave memorial case that honoring veterans and acknowledging our nation’s religious heritage is not an establishment of religion. We are encouraged that the appellate court wants to consider this decision’s impact on Mount Soledad. One person’s agenda should not diminish the heroic sacrifice of millions of veterans.”

Full Story: http://www.newswithviews.com/Lloyd/rees102.htm


About CPCFoundation

An unprecedented, nationwide movement of praying Legislators and citizens who are taking action to protect our Judeo-Christian heritage and religious liberty.
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