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ADF: U.S. Supreme Court should stop ACLU’s attacks on veterans’ memorials

ADF, American Legion Dept. of Calif. ask high court to uncover Mojave Desert Veterans’ Memorial
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cross and sunset

WASHINGTON — A brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court Monday asks the court to reject the contention of the American Civil Liberties Union that veterans’ memorials in the form of crosses are unconstitutional.  Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund, Advocates for Faith and Freedom, and the American Legion Department of California filed the friend-of-the-court brief, which argues for the lifting of a court order that covered a cross-shaped veterans’ memorial in California’s Mojave Desert with a large box.

“One person’s agenda shouldn’t diminish the sacrifice made by America’s veterans and families,” said ADF Legal Counsel Tim Chandler.  “Americans want these memorials to be protected.  What is more important:  the feelings of a single ‘offended’ person or honoring the memory of thousands of American heroes in a way that has been considered constitutional throughout our nation’s history?  If the Mojave cross is not allowed to stand, then numerous other veterans’ memorials are vulnerable to legal attack.”

In 2001, the ACLU sued the National Park Service on behalf of a retired park employee because other permanent religious displays had not been erected at the site.  Various forms of the memorial cross have existed at the location ever since 1934 when the Veterans of Foreign Wars placed it at that location.  In 2004, Congress authorized the transfer of the one acre of land under the cross back to the VFW, a private organization, in exchange for five acres of other land.  The ACLU argued that the land transfer was unconstitutional, and a federal district judge agreed.

ADF funded a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the National Legal Foundation in an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which upheld the lower court’s decision.  On Feb. 23, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that they would accept review of the case, Salazar v. Buono.  In the meantime, the memorial remains covered by a plywood box.

The brief filed Monday states, “Every man and woman who fought our Nation’s wars and died in service is remembered in local, state, and national war memorials.  It is disheartening to think that these memorials may be gutted because there are those who ignore the unique way the cross has universally honored the choice our soldiers made to lay down their lives for the good of the rest of us.”

The Defense of Veterans’ Memorials Project spearheaded by ADF, the American Legion, and Liberty Legal Institute seeks to defend America’s veterans’ memorials from attack in the courts.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith.  Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

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Timothy D. Chandler
Timothy D. Chandler
Senior Counsel, Vice President of Church & Ministry Alliance Engagement & Strategic Projects
Timothy D. Chandler serves as senior counsel and vice president of Church & Ministry Alliance engagement & strategic projects with Alliance Defending Freedom.