If a cross rises in the desert and no one knows about it, does it make a sound?
–Dana Milbank, WaPo
Mark Wilson-Getty Images
Is anyone really damaged by seeing the 10 Commandments displayed on a government building? Are any of you offended when you see a Christmas tree in a public square? When the White House hosts an Easter egg hunt each year, as well as iftar dinner and menorah lighting? Are your feelings hurt because we have national holidays that are Christian?
Religious expression is part of this nation’s history. The jihadist crusade of the ACLU and militant secular extremists is beyond reason in its successful attacks over the last several decades against public expression of Christian traditions and national heritage that has been a part of this country’s 200-plus year history.
Today, the Supreme Court began deliberations over the Mojave Desert Cross:
At issue was a cross that sits atop Sunrise Rock in a remote part of the Mojave National Preserve. Since 1934, the cross has existed, in one form or another, as a war memorial. Different court documents refer to it as 5 to 8 feet tall.
A decade ago, it came under legal attack from a former park service employee who, though a Catholic, thought it was inappropriate to favor one religion over another in the preserve. The National Park Service had turned down a request to have a Buddhist symbol erected nearby.
A federal judge and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the stand-alone display of the cross in the national preserve was unconstitutional and, further, Congress’ move to transfer it to the private VFW did not solve the problem.
The Obama administration, joining with the VFW, urged the high court to uphold the display of the cross now that it is in private hands.
U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan said that the “sensible action by Congress” to give the VFW control of the cross and the land under it solved the 1st Amendment problem. The cross is no longer on government land and under government control, she said.
“It’s VFW’s choice” how to preserve it and maintain it now, she said.
Not all of the justices sounded convinced. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens noted that the Mojave cross was designated as a national memorial and that Congress said it must be preserved as a cross to honor America’s war dead. If not, the land and the cross would revert to government control, they said.
Eliasberg argued that the transfer was an obvious ploy to maintain the cross after it had been declared unconstitutional by a federal court.
He agreed that crosses in a national cemetery would not pose a constitutional problem because other religious symbols, such as a Star of David for Jewish soldiers, are included as well.
By the end of the hour, it was not clear what issue the justices would decide. They could decide whether the transfer of the cross to the VFW solved the legal problem. Or they could go further back and decide whether it was constitutional to erect the cross on public land.
Some lawyers thought the justices could focus on whether the original plaintiff, former park service employee Frank Buono, had legal standing to object to the cross. But that issue was hardly mentioned in the court Wednesday.
It will probably be several months before the court hands down a decision in the case of Salazar vs. Buono.
A former fetus, the “wordsmith from nantucket” was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1968. Adopted at birth, wordsmith grew up a military brat. He achieved his B.A. in English from the University of California, Los Angeles (graduating in the top 97% of his class), where he also competed rings for the UCLA mens gymnastics team. The events of 9/11 woke him from his political slumber and malaise. Currently a personal trainer and gymnastics coach.
The wordsmith has never been to Nantucket.