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.