Philip Paulson succumbed to liver
cancer Oct. 25 at the age of 59, the San
Diego Union-Tribune reported. Paulson, a Vietnam War veteran, led a legal
battle to remove the Christian cross from the Mount Soledad War Memorial, which
But his case is being continued by
the American Civil Liberties Union, and if efforts to bring down the cross
prevail, religious symbols at
That’s the view of attorneys
“If the ACLU wins this one,
they’re going to go after all these monuments (including
“For hundreds of years, crosses have been seen as appropriate symbols of the sacrifice someone gave for their country regardless of their religious beliefs,” he said.
When Paulson filed suit
in U.S. District Court seeking to remove the Christian symbol 17
years ago, the
President Bush signed a bill Aug. 14 transferring the memorial to the federal government by applying the powers of eminent domain.
Lawsuits are pending in federal and state courts on three fronts. The ACLU is challenging the legality of the special ballot that authorized the city to transfer the memorial to the federal government. It is also challenging the federal legislation transferring the land.
Another case involves the appeal
of a federal judge’s May 2006 ruling that the City of
an attorney with the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based
“There’s no basis for this court
to affirm an injunction against the City of
James McElroy, attorney for Philip
Paulson and the ACLU, denied that there would be implications for
“If you go to Arlington, you will see crosses and stars of David on individual gravesites, which is perfectly appropriate where the people are making the choice, not the government,” he told the Register.
John Eastman, a professor at Chapman University School of Law, expects the court to put the case on hold pending the outcome of the other two cases.
The cases will likely end up before the U.S. Supreme Court, which will likely vote to keep the cross, he said.
He said, “It’s been going on for 17 years, and Justice Kennedy weighed in with a stay. They don’t do that unless they think the case is going to end up there.”
The battle over the
“If you look at the trend in leftist theory about society, it’s bought into the notion that there should be no communal restraints or standards because that’s a violation of liberty,” he said. “The line between liberty and licentiousness makes no sense to them.”
“To vindicate their philosophy of life, they demonize any institution that will continue to hold the old moral cultural norms,” Eastman explained. “As a result, you see massive attacks against the Church and massive attacks against groups like the Boy Scouts that are the quintessential holders of the moral line.”
In recent years, the ACLU has sued or threatened to sue several jurisdictions with Christian symbols in their logos or seals.
One case still winding its way through the courts is a 2004 decision by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to remove a small cross from the county seal after the ACLU threatened a lawsuit over the presence of the cross. The county avoided a suit by changing its seal, which sparked public outrage.
Muise, of the
“It wasn’t a situation where they discussed modifying or updating the seal; it was simply a decision to remove the cross,” Muise said. “We’ve alleged that there was some direct cooperation with the ACLU in doing this. There was no basis for taking that cross off. That cross was perfectly constitutional as it was.”
Similarly, the ACLU threatened to sue the village of Tijeras, N.M., which has a rosary in its town seal, but backed off after the plaintiff who brought the complaint decided not to go forward with it.
The ACLU of New Mexico declined in helping to sue the City of Las Cruces, N.M., whose seal contains three Christian crosses. “We thought there was a strong historical argument to justify the depiction of crosses in the city seal, most importantly, the very name of the city,” Executive Director Peter Simonson told the Register. Las Cruces is Spanish for "the crosses."
But two residents, Paul Weinbaum and Martin Boyd, are pursuing a suit against the city, The city says the crosses are symbols of its heritage. A U.S. District Court will hear the case this month.
Gary McCaleb, senior counsel at the Alliance Defense Fund, is defending the Utah Highway Patrol Association against another lawsuit brought by a group of atheists. The association routinely erects steel crosses to memorialize troopers who die in the line of duty. The atheists allege that the state is violating the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.
Religious symbols like the cross
were part of normal life for
“The founders believed that without a moral citizenry, they would not be able to sustain a self-governing republic,” he said. “The notion that you could get a moral citizenry without reliance on religion was preposterous. That’s how dangerous I think this threat is.”
is based in