On Oct. 7, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a major religious liberty case. In Salazar v. Buono, an ACLU-backed Frank Buono is suing to have a war memorial torn down. This is a World War I memorial in the shape of a cross, which has been standing in the Mojave Desert since 1934, erected by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). But this memorial happens to be in a national park, so the militant atheists in this country have taken it upon themselves to destroy it by filing a federal lawsuit.
This case has now been through four rounds of litigation. Finally, when the ACLU and their client won before the Ninth Circuit, something amazing took place. The VFW offered to swap a parcel of land that the VFW owned—a parcel of equal value with the parcel in the national park on which the cross stands that the government owns. Congress, working with the Bush White House, actually passed a federal law ordering this land swap, which would result in the cross then being on private land at no loss to the taxpayer.[# More #]
Then the unthinkable happened. Not content to allow this cross to remain standing even on privately-owned land, the ACLU rushed back to court and got a court order blocking the transfer. They did this to keep on the cross on government land to force the cross’s destruction. The Ninth Circuit upheld this infuriating move.
So the U.S. Supreme Court has stepped in to take over the case. The question this case will likely turn on is whether Frank Buono still has standing to continue this lawsuit in federal court. The Constitution only allows lawsuits in federal court where the plaintiff has suffered an injury that is traceable to the defendant and that the court can solve. Should the Court hold that he lacks standing, the entire case will be dismissed and the cross with be saved from the wrecking crew.
This case will have major consequences for people of faith in this country. If the ACLU wins, a whole new round of harassing lawsuits will be filed to eradicate expressions of faith in this country. If the Interior Department wins in protecting the cross, then it will be a blow against the militant atheists that are seeking to remake America in their image.
Ken Klukowski is a fellow and senior legal analyst with the American Civil Rights Union