The Supreme Court ruled today that Congress and the Interior Department acted properly when they used a land transfer to solve a dispute over a cross on display in the federal Mojave National Preserve.
The case, Salazar v. Buono, stemmed from a 2001 lawsuit challenging a cross erected in 1934 by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Frank Buono, an Oregon resident who had served as an assistant superintendent in the park and was a regular visitor, claimed the memorial to World War I veterans was unconstitutional because it gave the impression that the government was advancing a particular religion.
By a 5-4 margin, the Supreme Court ruled today that lower federal courts were wrong to dismiss as "evasion" the federal government's effort to transfer the land underneath the religious symbol. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion (pdf) for the majority, arguing that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had failed to consider the profound "dilemma" posed by the case.
The Interior Department could not leave the cross in place without violating the ruling that the display was unconstitutional, Kennedy wrote, "but it could not remove the cross without conveying disrespect for those the cross was seen as honoring. Deeming neither alternative satisfactory, Congress enacted the land-transfer statute."
1. DonGander wrote:
I wonder about all those crosses in the Federal cemeteries….
April 29, 9:02 am | [comment link]
2. Cennydd wrote:
Those crosses and Stars of David in our national cemeteries are put there as memorials and are not necessarily meant to convey any religious meaning except that they represent the implied religious heritage of the veterans which they honor. To remove these crosses and Stars of David would be to dishonor and disrespect those veterans, and I don’t think the people of this country would stand for that.
April 29, 12:12 pm | [comment link]
3. Mike L wrote:
Gravestones in public cemeteries are not deemed to constitute a gov’t endorsement of a religion because they individually represent the private beliefs of the persons buried there and are typically chosen by the surviving family memebers rather than by the gov’t. Even the ACLU has stated they have no intention of pursuing against the crosses in public cemeteries despite what a few circulating emails suggest.
April 29, 1:07 pm | [comment link]
4. New Reformation Advocate wrote:
Interesting that Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote, wrote the opinion. I’m relieved that the high court made a sensible decision in this case. To me, the protests over the Majove memorial cross always seemed like “much ado about nothing.”
April 29, 1:43 pm | [comment link]
5. DonGander wrote:
2. Cennydd/Mike L:
What’s the difference between honoring individual soldiers and “memorial to World War I veterans” as a group? I think it is merely a divide and conquer situation. Whoever is offended by one big cross will be equally offended by a whole bunch of little ones and I can’t see any court looking for a difference.
April 29, 6:13 pm | [comment link]
6. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:
Tell me again what I served in the military for. Tell me again what the sacrifices were for. Tell me why I should encourage anyone to join to defend…what? Why should I or anyone defend the rights of people not to be “offended” by the cross on my grave or at a memorial for those that bled and died to protect the nation?!?
Next war…go yourself…or better yet, send your sons and daughters. The great defense of the poor is that they have little to lose. The wealthy elitists of the ACLU and their ilk have EVERYTHING to lose if there is a paradigm shift in the government. Does anyone think that those sort of quibblers can exist in any other form of government? Who will be first against the wall if the nation falls? Not the poor. These buffoons have no understanding of history and less of those who serve in the nation’s defense. If they strip our freedoms one by one and eviscerate the Constitution…the document of liberty that a soldier swears a sacred oath to protect and defend…then why bother?
Next war, send the lawyers.
April 29, 9:47 pm | [comment link]
7. NoVA Scout wrote:
I don’t understand No. 6. I don’t think the issue has anything to do with “offense” being taken. It’s simply another of the many questions that arise about government impositions on religious expression. They fall out in various ways. This one, based on the lack of religious content in the cross, convinced a divided majority that there was no infringement on Constitutional liberties. My only regret is the irony of the dissenters’ (at least those joining Justice Stevens) recognizing the religious content of the symbol, while the majority (at least Justice Kennedy and the Chief), in order to reach the result they reached, had to minimize the religious significance of the Cross.
April 29, 10:07 pm | [comment link]
8. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:
So Frank Buono wasn’t offended? He just decided to have a lawsuit one day and pick this one out of a hat? He was just being a good citizen and wanted to remove or cover a memorial cross put in place by the VFW (a congressionally chartered organization) to honor the fallen soldiers…because it “was advancing a particular religion”?
Then, when the government did a land transfer to the VFW (at a 5 acre to 1 acre swap in favor of the government) so that it would no longer be owned by the government and therefore could not be construed as endorsement by the government of a particular religious sect…Frank Buono wasn’t satisfied. He filed an appeal. Why? If he wasn’t offended, what was the point of that?
Freedom of religion is NOT freedom from religion.
If you don’t understand why that riles, I can’t help you.
April 29, 10:31 pm | [comment link]
9. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:
BTW here is a quote from the decision…
“Buono’s asserted injury—offense at a religious symbol’s presence on federal land…”
So Buono asserted he was INJURED because he took offense to the VFW memorial cross being on federal land.
So, this had EVERYTHING to do with offense being taken.
April 29, 10:34 pm | [comment link]
10. Cennydd wrote:
How many times have any of those who complain about religious symbols in such public places as national cemeteries had to bury a fallen comrade-in-arms, or a fallen military family member, in a national cemetery? I have. Several times too many. Never once during those times did I hear of any complaint about those crosses and Stars of David marking those brave men’s graves. More than once, I saw tear-filled male eyes. I think it’s time to tell the ACLU to find something better to do and let the matter rest once and for all.
April 29, 10:40 pm | [comment link]
11. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:
Thank you Cennydd,
I’m seeing red on this issue right now and it’s hard to stay calm. I have been an honor guard at dozens of military funerals. Standing there at attention in all kinds of weather, firing the salute, honoring the dead and serving their families…feeling the pain of their loss, fighting back tears of my own when Taps is sounded…
Mr. Buono’s umbrage is just so wrong on so many levels.
Day is done,
gone the sun,
From the hills,
from the lake,
From the skies.
All is well,
God is nigh.
Go to sleep,
May the soldier
On the land
or the deep,
Safe in sleep.
Love, good night,
Must thou go,
When the day,
And the night
Need thee so?
All is well.
To their rest.
Fades the light;
And the stars
Fare thee well;
Day has gone,
Night is on.
Thanks and praise,
For our days,
‘Neath the sun,
Neath the stars,
‘Neath the sky,
As we go,
This we know,
God is nigh.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Mr. Buono!
April 29, 11:03 pm | [comment link]
12. NoVA Scout wrote:
I look at these cases from a decisional standpoint. “Offense” is like the theory that the atheist dad (I’ve deleted his name from my memory banks) took to the “under God” language of the Pledge (which may have constitutional infirmities, but not because someone “takes offense”). The constitutional analysis doesn’t turn on “offense”. Otherwise, the most thin-skinned among us would rule the country.
April 29, 11:08 pm | [comment link]
13. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:
“Otherwise, the most thin-skinned among us would rule the country. “
Has the entire Politically Correct movement escaped your notice?
Jobs are lost, lives are ruined, lawsuits are filed and the most thin-skinned among us are dictating to the rest of us.
The “thin-skinned” are running amok.
April 30, 1:17 am | [comment link]