Supreme Court rules Mojave Cross can stay in national park

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013 By

The Supreme Court building

Supreme Court gives Mojave Cross the OK in narrow majority. From Wikimedia Commons.

A cross erected in the Mojave desert in 1934 as a veterans memorial has been deemed worthy to stay on public land, according to the Supreme Court, having taken the Mojave Cross case last year.  The Supreme Court narrowly ruled 5 – 4 in favor of the cross staying, overruling lower court decisions which had deemed that the cross should go.  The dispute over the Mojave Cross, at least this one, began more than 10 years ago.  Who knows how many installment loans worth have gone into this particular court case.

Mojave Cross case wins by narrow majority

The Mojave Cross case has been closely monitored, as it is the first case involving First Amendment issues of the Roberts Court.  Justice Anthony Kennedy, according to Fox News, often the swing vote, authored the opinion.  The consensus was that the cross was deemed worthy to stay, as any veterans memorial being removed on grounds of the memorial being a cross would be a grave injustice to those who gave their lives in service. Justice Ailito offered that the cross “is likely to have been seen by more rattlesnakes than humans.”  The location is remote, in a 1-million-plus-acre national park.  You’d have to get short term loans just for the gas to get there.

Original suit brought 10 years ago

The original suit was brought more than 10 years ago by a retired Park Services employee, Frank Buono.  Buono, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, originally brought suit after a request for a Buddhist shrine alongside the cross was denied.  Furthermore, according to the Houston Chronicle, Jewish and Muslim veterans objected to the cross as a purely Christian symbol, thereby diminishing their contributions and sacrifices.

The only veteran on the Supreme Court weighs in

Justice John Paul Stevens, the only veteran on the court, dissented with the opinion but agreed removing a veterans memorial would be an injustice.  His dissent also included that a cross would be unintentionally honoring only Christian soldiers, and therefore was a “dramatically inadequate and inappropriate tribute”  to the sacrifice of veterans, regardless of their faith.

They did try to solve it

After the original suit was brought, 10 years ago (more than 60 years after it was put up), the cross was ordered removed.  Congress, in 2003, ordered the land transferred to private ownership, but federal courts enjoined the action.  The case was picked in October of 2009 up by the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court has deemed it acceptable for the Mojave Cross to stay in the park, but the land transfer is still a pending issue.

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