Woonsocket Memorial: FFRF Declares Victory – Prematurely?
A couple of hours ago, the AP reported that the organization which has demanded that Woonsocket remove the soldiers’ memorial in front of a fire station is counting their crosses before they’re removed.
The Wisconsin group challenging the constitutionality of a cross on a war memorial in Rhode Island says it expects to prevail without the type of long legal battle that unfolded over a prayer banner ordered removed this year from a public high school. …
Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said the group expects the cross will be removed without legal action.
“We expect to prevail without going to court,” she said Wednesday. “Our assumption is that the city does not realize the law.”
We’ll get to who “does not realize the law” in a moment. I’m trying to reconcile their statement to the comment that Council President John Ward made this morning under Andrew’s post.
The City of Woonsocket is not in a position to exhaust its sparce financial resources to defend this case should it move into the courts. That said, my email account and home phone answering machine have been filled with objections to the threat and offers of support.
This monument, originally placed on a traffic island has not moved since erected in 1921.
With the outpouring of offers of support coming to me, other city council members, and our mayor, the memorial and our determination to leave it in place will be defended. One or more offers of pro bono defense, should it come to that, will be accepted and the peoples right to maintain the design and placement of this war memorial will be defended.
My thanks to all who have raised their voices in objection to this affront to our freedoms and I look forward to seeing this monument refurbished and kept in its rightful place in the island dedicated as Place Jolicoeur.
Woonsocket City Council President
Now, as for the law. Andrew cites the pertinent Supreme Court decision of just two years ago.
The court decision most relevant to the Woonsocket’s war memorial that displays a cross isn’t the Cranston West prayer banner decision, it is the Supreme Court’s 2010 Salazar vs. Buono decision. …
This decision from just two years ago makes clear that bona fide war memorials that incorporate crosses on public lands are Constitutional, and there’s no question that the cross in Woonsocket, “erected in 1921 and…dedicated to four men who lost their lives defending the United States”, is part of a bona fide war memorial.
Direct link to the decision here for the ease of reference of those who might not fully “realize the law”.
Brassband demurs with my conclusions about Salazar.
Caution. Justice Kennedy’s opinion in the Buono case is a plurality opinion, meaning that it did not command a majority of the Justices. . . and the issue was not whether the cross could stand on government land, but whether Congress’ enactment of a statute transferring to a private party the land on which the cross stood was an adequate response to a lower court injunction ordering the cross to be removed.