Mojave Cross Controversy at the Supreme Court

In 1934, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) erected a cross on a non-descript area of the desert in California as a war memorial.  In 2001, the ACLU filed suit to have it removed. A district court ruled that the primary purpose of the cross was to advance religion; therefore the presence of the cross on government land was unConstitutional.  Currently, the now-steel cross is covered by a wooden box to obscure its shape.

The case will be heard by the Supreme Court on October 7th.

While the ACLU repeatedly claims it is not trying to remove crosses from headstones in cemeteries, there are free-standing cross memorials in military cemeteries–including Arlington–that are subject to the same logic the ACLU is using in this case.  The ACLU’s efforts have spawned a cottage industry of opposition, including a website dedicated to “save our memorials.”

The case is Salazar v. Buono, and it has generated a veritable host of supporters on both sides of the case:

Those filing an amicus brief supporting the removal of the cross:

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, the Anti-Defamation League, Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and People for the American Way, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, the Interfaith Alliance, Jewish War Veterans, the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council, the Muslim American Veterans Association

Those filing an amicus brief supporting the retention of the cross:

Veterans of Foreign Wars, The American Legion, Military Order of the Purple Heart, the ACLJ, 15 members of Congress, the Becket Fund, Alliance Defense Fund.

The ACLU currently also has litigation ongoing attempting to remove the Mt Soledad cross in San Diego.