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Barry, you’re missing the point of memorial crosses like those at the Mojave National Preserve, Mount Davidson, Mount Soledad, and thousands of other places across the country. They are not designed to honor God but rather to memorialize the fallen soldiers or civilians in whose memory they are dedicated.
As you know, many of these memorials date back almost a century to the aftermath of World War I while others were dedicated shortly after World War II or during the Korean War. The Argonne Cross and the Canadian Cross of Sacrifice have been part of the landscape of Arlington National Cemetery for decades. The amount of public funds spent to maintain memorials is minimal in many cases, as the veterans organizations who first created them often donate their own time and money to help with their upkeep. The Hein case properly recognized that taxpayer standing in Establishment Clause cases should not be viewed expansively and emphasized that it is a narrow exception to the general rule that taxpayers do not have legal standing to challenge the government’s expenditure of tax dollars.
Hopefully the Court will use the Mojave case to rein in “offended observer” standing to challenge government displays or actions that have some religious aspects. There is no basis in the text or history of Article III of the Constitution for the claim that a person has legal standing to bring a case simply because he or she is offended by government conduct, whether it be the maintenance of a war memorial, the passage of a law, or the raising of taxes.
In the Mojave case, the plaintiff was not even offended on religious grounds but merely disagreed with the government’s decision to not create a public forum for private organizations to build a variety of monuments. The unprincipled expansion of the doctrine of legal standing has gone too far and the Mojave case presents the Court with an opportunity to restore a more limited view of standing that is consistent with the original meaning of the Constitution.
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