Rees Lloyd: Revealed Monday Supreme Court Decision on Whether They’ll Take Up Mt. Soledad Memorial Cross Case

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The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 7, 2012 conference  meeting included an undisclosed vote on whether the Court will grant review in the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial Cross Case (Mt. Soledad Memorial Association v. Trunk), which is the most important Establishment of Religion Clause case pending, in my opinion. The ACLU, which I believe has become the Taliban of American Liberal Secularism due to its secular cleansing fanaticism, is now in its twenty-third (23rd) year of legal attack attempting to destroy the cross honoring veterans at the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial. 

The U.S. District Court in San Diego ruled against the ACLU in the latest round of litigation after the memorial was transferred to the U.S. Defense Department by Act of Congress in 2006 to save it from court-ordered destruction. The District Court held that the cross is not a violation of the Establishment of Religion Clause because reasonable persons observing it would understand it is intended to honor the selfless service and sacrifice of the war dead and other veterans, and is not intended to endorse any particular religion, or religion generally. 

However, the ACLU appealed to the the 9th Circuit, the most liberal, most reversed circuit in the nation, which reversed that  District Court decision and ordered the cross destroyed. 

The Supreme Court vote decides whether to allow the 9th Circuit decision to stand, and thus tear down the cross, or grant Supreme Court review and decide the issue itself.

Liberty Institute in Texas represents the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association in its petition for review. There is much valuable information on the issues presented in this and related cases at its website.

Mt. Soledad Memorial Cross, San Diego, Ca

As co-founder, with Attorney Joseph Infranco of the Alliance Defense Fund, of the Defense of Veterans Memorials Project of The American Legion District 21 and of the Dept. of California,  I am proud that  The American Legion is fighting the ACLU to save Mt. Soledad, as one of the organizations which has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the petition for Supreme Court review as has the Thomas More Law Center  and many other veterans’ and patriotic public interest law firms. 

I am particularly proud that when oral argument was heard at the 9th Circuit’s Courthouse in Pasadena, CA, every single seat in the courtroom was filled by a wartime veteran member of The American Legion Department of California.
The importance of the Supreme Court’s vote June 7,and its ultimate decision if it grants review, cannot be overestimated. 
What is at stake in the Mt. Soledad National Veteran’s Memorial Cross Case is whether 300-million Americans will continue to have the right to honor their war dead and other Americans as they decide; or whether the secular-extremists of the ACLU shall have a veto power over such decisions because one or more persons represented by the ACLU claim they are “offended” by the sight of a cross on veterans memorials.
The precedent set in the Mt. Soledad Cross case will affect the entire nation, and future generations of Americans who wish to honor their war dead and other veterans.
There is no American who has done more personally to save the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial “where it is, as it is,” with the cross honoring veterans intact, than San Diego Attorney Charles LiMandri, Western Regional Director of the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC),  and founder of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF). He has worked pro bono  defending the Mt Soledad Cross for eight years, commencing in 2004, in the California Superior Court and Court of Appeal, the U.S. District Court, 9th Circuit Court of Appeal, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

When the U.S. House voted overwhelmingly and the Senate voted unanimously to enact the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial Protection Act in 2006, which transferred the memorial from the City of San Diego to the U.S. Defense Department –thereby saving it from from a destruction order issued at that time — LiMandri was invited to attend the signing ceremony in the White House by then-President George Bush in recognition of LiMandri’s extraordinary pro bono efforts to save the Mt. Soledad Cross. Mr. LiMandri said of the Supreme Court’s vote today:

“This is the longest running religious freedom case of its kind in the history of our nation. After 23 years of litigation, the end of this case is finally in sight. If the U.S. Supreme Court accepts the case, as we hope and expect that it will, then it will have an excellent opportunity to not only preserve intact the historic Mt. Soledad War Memorial, but it will also be in a position to lend some much needed clarity to this area of the law involving the proper use of religious symbols on public property.”

The Supreme Court’s decision is expected to be publicly released on Monday.

It is to be hoped that the Supreme Court will grant review, and ultimately reverse the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal. 

But whatever that decision is, we must continue to fight to preserve Mt. Soledad, and all veterans memorials, “where they are, as they are, with the cross honoring veterans intact, in order to preserve the right of Americans to honor their war dead and other veterans in the manner they decide appropriate, even if the ACLU is “offended” at the sight of a cross honoring veterans at veterans’ memorials.
(Rees Lloyd, a longtime California civil rights attorney now living in Portland, is an American Legion activist, and a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce)

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