Separation Doesn’t Mean That One Silences the Other

By way of follow-up on an issue that I’ve mentioned, before, the Supreme Court has ruled that a plain cross on public land in the middle of the desert does not constitute an establishment of religion:

By a 5-4 vote, the justices reversed lower courts in California that ordered the U.S. Park Service to remove an 8-foot-tall cross that has stood in various forms in the Mojave National Preserve since 1934 as a memorial to the soldiers of World War I. …
In the past, the high court, led by O’Connor, has said a city or state’s display of a religious symbol was unconstitutional if it could seen as an official “endorsement” of a particular faith. In June 2005, a 5-4 majority cited this reason for striking down the display of the Ten Commandments in Kentucky courthouses.
But days later, O’Connor retired and was replaced by Alito. On Wednesday, he joined with Kennedy and Roberts. They agreed that if a religious display carries other meaning, it can be upheld. The cross “evokes far more than religion,” said Kennedy, speaking for the divided court. He faulted the judges in California for having “concentrated solely on the religious aspects of the cross, divorced from its background and context.” Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas joined to form the majority. They said they would have gone further and ruled that the former park service official who sued had no legal standing to object to the cross.

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joe bernstein
joe bernstein
13 years ago

I don’t see how this cross is ‘establishment of religion”.I am eligible for burial in a veterans’ cemetery and I don’t give a tinker’s dmn if a religious symbol is publicly displayed there.Since I believe in cremation,it won’t be an issue.Of course those cemeteries have compartments for ashes,but why take up any more space than I already have.
The point is that any religious symbol can be displayed on a headstone,or none,for that matter.Most veterans probably would agree with me.Well,maybe not Bob Kerr,but whatever.

13 years ago

As Mark Twain might say, the result in this case has been highly exaggerated.
The Court did NOT hold that it was OK for the cross to be there.
There was no majority opinion, the Justices were widely scattered on a number of somewhat technical aspects of the case, and we won’t really know for sure for some time whether the cross can stay as it awaits the further action in the lower courts.
There are several aspects of the case that await further resolution and, to make matters more confused, as we all know the composition of the Supreme Court is about to change.
For a thorough description, see Lyle Denniston’s report at SCOTUSBLOG

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
13 years ago

As far as I’m concerned,the teaching of secular humanism in the public schools violates the establishment clause.It’s a belief system,ergo the functional equivalent of a religion.
We had school prayer and we could sing “My Country Tis of Thee” when I was in school.It didn’t ruin our lives.
Yeah,Stuart,I know….blah,blah,blah.

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