I’m sure Rees Lloyd and the other veterans will have something to say about that in court. Rees predicts civil disobedience if the cross in San Diego is ordered torn down. The memorial land was transfered to the federal government when it was previously ordered torn down.
This may be heard by the 9th circuit en banc, but this could be going to the Supremes.
From the folks at the Alliance Defense Fund:
Statement by ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joe Infranco in reaction to the ruling: “The memory of those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom shouldn’t be dishonored because the ACLU finds a small number of people who are merely offended,” said Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Joe Infranco. “It’s tragic that the court chose a twisted and tired interpretation of the First Amendment over the common sense idea that the families of fallen American troops should be allowed to honor these heroes as they choose. No one is harmed, constitutionally or otherwise, by the presence of a cross on a war memorial. There is great harm to tearing these memorials down.” (ADF Media Information)
Trunk v. Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America, No. 08-56436 (9th Cir. Jan. 4, 2011)
Before: Harry Pregerson, M. Margaret McKeown, and
Richard A. Paez, Circuit Judges.
Opinion by Judge McKeown
The Supreme Court’s framework for evaluating monuments on public lands and for resolving Establishment Clause cases under the First Amendment leads us to conclude that the district court erred in declaring the Memorial to be primarily non-sectarian, and granting summary judgment in favor of the government and the Memorial’s supporters.
We are not faced with a decision about what to do with a historical, longstanding veterans memorial that happens to include a cross. Nor does this case implicate military cemeteries in the United States that include headstones with crosses and other religious symbols particular to the deceased. Instead we consider a site with a free-standing cross originally erected in 1913 that was replaced with an even larger cross in 1954, a site that did not have any physical indication that it was a memorial nor take on the patina of a veterans memorial until the 1990s, in response to the litigation. We do not discount that the Cross is a prominent landmark in San Diego. But a few scattered memorial services before the 1990s do not establish a historical war memorial landmark such as those found in Arlington Cemetery, Gettysburg, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Resurrection of this Cross as a war memorial does not transform it into a secular monument.
We acknowledge the good intentions and heartfelt emotions on all sides of this dispute, and recognize the sincere anguish that will be felt regardless of whether we affirm or reverse the district court. We also acknowledge the historical role of religion in our civil society. In no way is this decision meant to undermine the importance of honoring our veterans. Indeed, there are countless ways that we can and should honor them, but without the imprimatur of state-endorsed religion. At the same, time in adopting the First Amendment, Founders were prescient in recognizing that, without eschewing religion, neither can the government be seen as favoring one religion over another. The balance is subtle but fundamental to our freedom of religion.