ACLJ & Members of Congress to Appeals Court: San Diego's Veterans Memorial is Constitutional

Mar 23, 2011, 16:03 ET from American Center for Law and Justice

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) today filed an amicus brief on behalf of 17 members of Congress in support of the federal government's request that the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rehear a case in which a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit declared the long-standing Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial overlooking San Diego unconstitutional.

"This is an opportunity for the entire appeals court to correct a mistake made by a three-judge panel that wrongly determined that a long-standing monument honoring our nation's veterans is unconstitutional," said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ.  "There's Supreme Court precedent underscoring the fact that this monument does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.  The Memorial evokes thoughts of the hundreds of thousands of individual crosses throughout the country and worldwide representing the lives and service of American veterans. It poses no constitutional crisis. We're hopeful the full appeals court takes the case and reverses the panel's decision - a vital next step on the way to the Supreme Court of the United States."

The ACLJ filed is amicus brief urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to grant an en banc hearing on behalf of itself, 17 members of the 112th U.S. Congress, Advocates for Faith and Freedom, a California-based religious liberty law firm, which served as co-counsel in the case, as well as thousands of Americans who have signed on to ACLJ's Petition to Preserve the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial.

The ACLJ represented the following United States Representatives:

Randy Forbes, Chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, as well as Robert Aderholt, Todd Akin, Roscoe Bartlett, Mike Conaway, Jeff Duncan, Renee Ellmers, Virginia Foxx, Scott Garrett, Walter Jones, Jim Jordan, Steve King, John Kline, James Lankford, Jeff Miller, Joe Pitts, and Joe Wilson.

In its amicus brief, the ACLJ contends that the federal government's acquisition and operation of the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial – including its commemorative cross – is consistent with the Establishment Clause and that the three-judge panel erred when it declared the memorial unconstitutional in January.

The brief argues:  "The panel correctly recognized that the law's key purpose—preserving a historic war memorial to honor veterans—is secular. However, the panel placed little importance upon Justice Kennedy's plurality opinion in Salazar v. Buono, 130 S. Ct. 1803 (2010), which noted that 'a Latin cross is not merely a reaffirmation of Christian beliefs. It is a symbol often used to honor and respect those whose heroic acts, noble contributions, and patient striving help secure an honored place in history for this Nation and its people.' Id. at 1820."

The ACLJ amicus brief is posted here.

Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice focuses on constitutional law and is based in Washington, D.C.  The ACLJ is online at

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SOURCE American Center for Law and Justice