October 7th, 2009
04:30 PM ET
5 years ago

Justices weigh constitutionality of war memorial cross

A judge ruled that the Mojave Cross must be covered until a First Amendment issue can be resolved.
A judge ruled that the Mojave Cross must be covered until a First Amendment issue can be resolved.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Supreme Court offered conflicting concerns Wednesday over a cross, erected as a war memorial, that sits on national parkland in the Mojave Desert and whether it violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

Conservative members of the bench suggested that Congress acted properly when it tried to transfer land around the Mojave Memorial Cross to veterans groups, an effort to eliminate any Establishment Clause violation. A federal appeals panel had blocked that land swap.

"Isn't that a sensible interpretation" of a federal court injunction banning the display on government property, Justice Samuel Alito asked.

But Justice Stephen Breyer was adamant that the government had not acted in good faith. "You are violating this injunction" that ordered removal of the cross, he told the government's lawyer.

The swing vote - as he is in many hot-button issues - may be Justice Anthony Kennedy, who questioned attorneys on both sides but did not indicate how he was leaning.

Full story


Filed under: Supreme Court
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Vietnam Combat Veteran, Ohio

    Supreme court is a big JOKE!

    October 7, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  2. Enough

    I am so sick and tired of these people who fight to remove these symbols because it is a cross. I am not religious and it doesn't bother me that they put crosses up. There has been a constant battle like this over a cross on Mt. Soledad in San Diego, CA. Some dumb atheist wants it taken down. Enough catering to every cry baby who claims to be offended. What has happened to common sense in America?

    October 7, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  3. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    Next thing you know the ACLU will be after Arlington and all the other military cemetaries with Crosses, Star of Davids, Cresent Moons, and other religious symbols as markers! That is when ACLU members should become the new Man Without a Country.

    October 7, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  4. Rose

    This issue is so absurd because some idiot was driving by and saw the cross on Federal land. Well get a grip whoever you are, have you been to Arlington Cemetery???

    October 7, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  5. annie against biased news

    What is wrong with a government that finds fault in a simple cross that honors WWI veterans but their so-called president kisses the backside of muslim terror groups?

    October 7, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  6. Bob the Observer

    Well, I'm afraid to walk the streets of Chicago because a gang might beat me to death. Our schools are asphalt jungles and we have terrorist cells within our borders trying to blow up skyscrapers.

    Ponzi schemers are robbing us of money, and unelected appointees in high places are rewriting the basic tenets of our own laws.

    But I can sleep well at night. I know that some no-good is not going to be allowed to put a cross where I can see it. That makes me feel really good. Thank you, ACLU, circuit judges, and maybe even wise Latinas, for keeping me protected from those dangerous religious symbols.

    I can't believe people got away with such philosophical terrorism for over 200 years. We're all better now.

    October 7, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  7. Nunya

    Try actually reading this article and informing yourselves about the issues involved in the case. Whether you like crosses or stars or crescents or whatever, the expressed behavior of the government in this case has been different toward different groups who intend to use symbols of different religions. How much more clear can you get that government is treating different religions different legally? How much more in contradiction to the First Amendment can you get? Leaving the cross is perfectly fine, but don't go forbidding similar monuments that would use a different symbol. Arlington uses a variety of religious symbols as appropriate for the individuals who are buried there. The same is appropriate here.

    October 7, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  8. David

    Separation of church and state makes sense where policy is being set but forcing removal of a cross on federal land is ridiculous. I think we have bigger problems to deal with right now.

    October 7, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  9. LacrosseMom

    What does this have to do with the ACLU?

    This is a group of atheists who want the cross gone.

    They are wrong, but last I heard we have freedom of speech.

    October 7, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  10. Pragmatic

    If all the people who are against this old cross on a tiny piece of land (that they probably will never see) put all this time, energy and money to doing something constructive... think how much better our country would be! Its a non-issue!

    October 7, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  11. Dustin Jones, Fort Wayne, IN

    They should leave the cross where it is.

    Allowing a Christian symbol on federally owned land isn't the same as making a "law respecting an establishment of religion."

    Those words were only written to prevent a blatant misuse of "religion" that was once used in order to manipulate and intimidate people. Former Europe's Church-run State became corrupt, not because of honest Christ-followers living out their faith, but rather because greedy rulers chose to oppress people while conveniently hiding behind a "Christian" veneer.

    The question is which is a bigger assault on freedom: To leave a religious symbol on federal property, where non-Christians can see it? Or to blatantly deny and revoke a Christian symbol placed there in the 1930s to honor soldiers, simply because a few people take offense?

    October 7, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  12. Ron

    Actually Rose, it was a gentleman who is also Catholic, began the process. His reasoning is that the Cross is specifically Christian. To say anything else, is a lie and people know this. In reviewing the comments, it's apparent that they don't know how this started but the blaming process is the same...blame someone.
    I'm still not sure what i think about the issue.
    I'd say let those of other religions also put up the symbols of their religion to represent all military individuals who have given it their all.
    The problem with this possibility is then others will then yell, it's a Christian country and it doesn't belong. Which then supports the law suit and shows that the symbol is religious and not secular.

    October 7, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  13. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    I'm not big on religion so I really couldn't care less, but since this country was conceptualized and created by DEVOUT CHRISTIANS, then CHRISTIANITY should carry a little more weight than the other religions. I SAY THE CROSS STAYS. The irate muslims can go to you know where.

    October 7, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  14. kmp

    Seriously some people have got to get a life. I am all for separation of church and state but this is a little out there if you ask me. Some need to start being so sensitive and realize it isn't all about them.

    October 7, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "Isn't that a sensible interpretation?"

    What, so we can get into court battles about who gets to purchase a display area in front of City Hall? No, Alito, you're wrong as usual..and eminently unsensible...or maybe insensate. Most people, from the fundies to the bargainers, have got it wrong: our gov't does NOT exist in part to support or promote ALL religions, it supports and promotes NONE. Period. "NO law respecting religion" is pretty darn clear.

    October 7, 2009 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  16. old timer

    Leave well enough alone and the UCLA can take a flying leap to were ever. This group has done more harm than good for and in this country-–if the UCLA doesn't like the way we honor these people then maybe they should all move to a different nation.WE WOULD BE MUCH BETTER WITHOUT THIS GROUP.

    October 7, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  17. Karen

    If people put all of this energy used to keep crosses out of America, just think of all the good that could be done. Go to Arlington Cemetery, really reflect on the cross and see if you come away with that much hate for the cross. The ACLU is SO out of touch with real America.

    October 7, 2009 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  18. JES

    We continue to let the few run our lives. This country was founded by Christians or have we forgot that.

    October 7, 2009 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  19. VS, Florida

    It is not an issue of denying anyone the right to practise their faith. The point is to make sure that we make decisions that maintain the intent of the constitution. The persons who are calling the objection to the monument stupid, would be up in arms if symbols of other religious faiths were placed on public land.

    October 8, 2009 02:12 am at 2:12 am |