It was a pleasure seeing you, too. I always am up for a great photo-op, too.
As you know, I’m heading to New York right now to appear on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight to discuss this very case. But here are some of my thoughts in advance.
To me, the most shocking comment of the day came from Justice Antonin Scalia. He actually said that this cross represents all veterans, even those who are not Christian. He said it was an “outrageous conclusion” that the cross is a symbol of Christianity and claims it is symbol of a “resting place.”
Is Scalia seriously arguing that the cross is no longer a religious symbol? Now THAT is an outrageous conclusion. I believe our veterans deserve to be honored just as much as you do, Jay. But why do we need to use a Christian symbol to do that at the expense of excluding those of different faiths?
As I told the press this morning on the portico of the Supreme Court, moments before I ran into you:
”The cross in Mojave Reserve has no historic significance, it has no
secular significance; it is a powerful symbol of the dominant religion
in this country and, as such, it has no business being in the Mojave
“There is not one reasonable person,” I continued, “who drives on those
roads and sees this cross on one acre who doesn’t think that that acre
is controlled — like the 1.6 million other acres — by the federal
government for people of all faiths, no faiths and people of all
A few quick words about “standing” – - the right to sue. I agree with
you that it is very hard to read where Justice Kennedy will stand on
this issue. My hope is that he will agree that standing, or Buono’s
right to sue in this case, should not even be open for discussion.
First off, as Americans United wrote in a friend-of-the-court brief
in this case, religious symbols on government land do inflict harm on
the observer that is far too significant to go unremedied.
AU’s brief cites to studies that show even “subliminal exposure to a
symbol of one’s own faith can yield physical as well as psychological
benefits, while similar exposure to what one might consider a
‘negative’ religious symbol can be correspondingly detrimental.”
You are suggesting that the high court should use this case to get rid
of Americans’ right to sue in cases such as these. That would overturn
decades of settled law in a way that would be detrimental to our civil
liberties. Citizens subjected to government-sponsored religion through
spoken or written words can bring a lawsuit. I don’t see how someone
subjected to that same message in a symbolic form somehow loses that
But I’m hoping, based on what I heard in court today, that I don’t have to worry about that.
Our justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, seemed to be under
the impression during oral arguments today that standing should not be
discussed in this case. And if I read the justices correctly, I
couldn’t agree more.
I don’t know how our justices are going to come out on this case. But I know AU and our allies have a winning argument.
I’d also just like to add that Frank Buono, the offended-observer
plaintiff in this case, is not an “ideologically motivated citizen,” as
you suggest. He is a Catholic who told Americans United’s Church &
State magazine that he believes the greatest threat to freedom of
religion is “when the government is not neutral toward religion.” To
him, this cross on public land seemed like the government preferred one
religion over others, and he knows that is not fair or right. It’s as
simple as that.
The sad truth is that the government has been shameless in trying to
keep this cross up, all the while knowing it has denied other religious
groups the same opportunity. I hope the U.S. Supreme Court sees this
case for what it really is and ends this 10-year-long battle by
removing this unconstitutional cross.
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