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Supreme Court Considers Legality of Crosses on Public Land

While the Supreme Court decides whether or not religious symbols can be erected on public land, one justice already has his mind made up. During the oral arguments on the legality of a cross at a World War I memorial, Catholic Justice Antonin Scalia more than hinted at how he is voting. Scalia said yesterday:

What would you have them erect? . . . Some conglomerate of a cross, a Star of David, and you know, a Muslim half moon and star? . . . I don't think you can leap from that to the conclusion that the only war dead that that cross honors are the Christian war dead.

Scalia definitely has no problem avoiding religious sensitivity. He seems to dismiss even the idea of a more inclusive memorial outright. Since the memorial was built more than 75 years ago, there could be a valid argument for preserving it for historical reasons, but it seems only right that today's memorials should not favor one religion. Then again, perhaps the separation of church and state goes even further to dictate that no religious symbols should be found on public land. That is the question the Supreme Court must decide.

What do you think? Should crosses be allowed on public lands, should religious memorials be required to be all-inclusive, or should religious symbols be banned altogether from public land?

Image Source: Getty
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karlotta karlotta 6 years
Oh for crying out loud, all this political correctness that makes us all uber-sensitive about crosses and burqas and religious stuff, it's just insane. First of all, it's not because this country welcomes people from all religious backgrounds, and that church and state are separated, that we can't recognize that the US was originally built by protestants. The christian heritage is very strong, and admitting it doesn't make us racists or intolerant of muslims and jews. It's just reality. Get over yourselves. Leaving a cross up doesn't say anything against other religions. It just says "oh, look, there are christians here". Big Fucking Deal.
zeze zeze 6 years
I say leave the cross, but at the same time if a group honoring the Muslim dead or Jewish dead, or Buddhist dead comes along and wants to put something up...then no double standards. You let them. As far as mandating an all inclusive design, that's a bit overkill.
zeze zeze 6 years
I say leave the cross, but at the same time if a group honoring the Muslim dead or Jewish dead, or Buddhist dead comes along and wants to put something up...then no double standards. You let them. As far as mandating an all inclusive design, that's a bit overkill.
staple-salad staple-salad 6 years
I don't really care one way or the other if there are religious symbols in public places, just so long as they aren't dominated by one religion (aka, have a cross for one memorial, maybe a Star of David for some other positive purpose, a Buddha statue for another, etc). I'm an atheist, and I'm all for religious expression as I am for non-religious expression. As long as everyone has the equal rights of freedom of and freedom from religion, whatever is cool with me. And at Anon on comment 6: I really don't think you're a "Law student" considering you don't seem to understand American law or history very well. The majority of the Founders were agnostic/atheist, a couple were religious, but the country wasn't founded on Christian principles, or religious principles in general, save for a bunch of colonies trying to escape the Church of England and be able to practice their own sect of Christianity (or just not practice Christianity in general). The idea was to create a country with no state religion, which is even stated in the first amendment in the Bill of Rights: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. In fact, save for the preamble, it's the FIRST thing said in the Bill of Rights. And the trend seems to be secularity within US law since.
staple-salad staple-salad 6 years
I don't really care one way or the other if there are religious symbols in public places, just so long as they aren't dominated by one religion (aka, have a cross for one memorial, maybe a Star of David for some other positive purpose, a Buddha statue for another, etc). I'm an atheist, and I'm all for religious expression as I am for non-religious expression. As long as everyone has the equal rights of freedom of and freedom from religion, whatever is cool with me.And at Anon on comment 6:I really don't think you're a "Law student" considering you don't seem to understand American law or history very well. The majority of the Founders were agnostic/atheist, a couple were religious, but the country wasn't founded on Christian principles, or religious principles in general, save for a bunch of colonies trying to escape the Church of England and be able to practice their own sect of Christianity (or just not practice Christianity in general). The idea was to create a country with no state religion, which is even stated in the first amendment in the Bill of Rights:<i><b>Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion</b>, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.</i>In fact, save for the preamble, it's the FIRST thing said in the Bill of Rights. And the trend seems to be secularity within US law since.
Meike Meike 6 years
As an agnostic, I don't mind displays of Christianity as long as people of other faiths/beliefs are allowed to display theirs.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 6 years
I think I hate everything that comes out of Scalia's mouth.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 6 years
Wow, my first sentence does not make sense. I meant, "each family can choose to have or not to have..."
lilkimbo lilkimbo 6 years
I think we should allow crosses like the ones at Arlington because, while they are on public land, each person's family can choose to not choose to have that cross, or choose another religious symbol or no religious symbol at all.As far as this cross goes, there's actually a more complicated issue at hand, because Congress gave the land to the VFW, with the stipulation that they maintain the cross, so the case isn't as simple as it may seem.And, as a general rule, justices decide the vast majority of cases before oral arguments. The briefs are generally given much more weight. Of course, they also have the transcripts from lower courts. Generally, nothing new is brought up in oral arguments, so it's not really as if Scalia decided before considering both sides.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 6 years
I think we should allow crosses like the ones at Arlington because, while they are on public land, each person's family can choose to not choose to have that cross, or choose another religious symbol or no religious symbol at all. As far as this cross goes, there's actually a more complicated issue at hand, because Congress gave the land to the VFW, with the stipulation that they maintain the cross, so the case isn't as simple as it may seem. And, as a general rule, justices decide the vast majority of cases before oral arguments. The briefs are generally given much more weight. Of course, they also have the transcripts from lower courts. Generally, nothing new is brought up in oral arguments, so it's not really as if Scalia decided before considering both sides.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 6 years
Way to go Scalia - showing that he makes up his mind before hearing both sides of a case. As an atheist - it doesn't bother me if there is a cross for this particular memorial. I understand that it represents all who fought in WWI. I honestly am not bothered by crosses on public land since I know the majority of american's do have religious beliefs.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 6 years
Way to go Scalia - showing that he makes up his mind before hearing both sides of a case. As an atheist - it doesn't bother me if there is a cross for this particular memorial. I understand that it represents all who fought in WWI. I honestly am not bothered by crosses on public land since I know the majority of american's do have religious beliefs.
Kimpossible Kimpossible 6 years
As much as I like religious symbols, I think separation of church and state is very important, so no symbols is probably the way I would go.
Deidre Deidre 6 years
I think as long as our pledge of allegiance still says "one nation under God" religious symbols (and not just those of Christian faith) should still be allowed on public land. Seems ridiculous to include religious references in some public capacity, but not another.
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