The cross at one time placed on “Sunrise Rock” in the Mojave Desert and which formed the basis of the law suit in Salazar v. Buono is slated to be displayed again on Veteran’s Day. Originally, the cross was displayed in 1934 by World War I veterans to honor veterans of that war; it now commemorates veterans of all wars. The land swap organized by Congress some years ago, in which the property on which the cross stands was transferred to private hands (to the Veterans of Foreign Wars), was approved and the ACLU’s Establishment Clause objection seems for now to have been rejected by the district court.
On Monday, a federal district court in California approved a settlement ending the long-running litigation in Salazar v. Buono, the Mojave Desert Cross case. The case, the most recent Supreme Court ruling on public religious displays, involves a Latin cross on a war memorial on federal land in the Mojave Desert. After a district court enjoined the government from displaying the cross as a violation of the Establishment Clause, the government attempted to convey the land to a private association, the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The district court ruled that the conveyance violated the terms of the injunction, but, in 2010, a divided Supreme Court reversed and remanded for further consideration.
This week’s settlement allows the government to convey the land to the VFW in exchange for other property. The National Park Service will install and maintain a fence with signage indicating that the land is privately owned and maintain roads allowing for “safe and suitable” public access. The government will not replace the cross, which someone stole after the Supreme Court’s decision, but the new owners are of course free to do so, and in fact, the VFW has a cross ready. The government will restore the plaque designating the spot as a national war memorial and has reserved the right to have Park Rangers explain to visitors what they’re looking at. H/T: Religion Clause.
Today’s discussion at the extremely valuable SCOTUSblog concerns the Establishment Clause. SCOTUSblog has invited CLR Forum readers to participate. The description is below. Have fun!– MLM
Today’s discussion involves the Establishment Clause. The Court has pending before it two petitions (here and here) – which it has relisted three times – involving a Utah program that posts crosses at the locations where highway patrol officers are killed. Recent decisions involving the Establishment Clause include cases addressing the Mojave Cross and the Summum religion. Please contribute your thoughts on the Court’s Establishment Clause jurisprudence, and on these cases specifically.