Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Vandals Out-Flank Supreme Court

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

A six-foot metal cross that until this past weekend sat atop a rock in the Mojave National Preserve has been in the news recently. The American Civil Liberties Union and other interested parties had gone to court alleging that it violated the Constitutional separation of church and state. Veterans groups and a right-wing organization out of Texas called the Liberty Institute defended the presence of the cross on public lands, stating that it had sat on its lonely rock in the desert for several decades and had been put up not as a religious symbol, but to honor veterans. (Never mind that religious services had been held around the cross.)

Congress tried to side-step the Constitution by giving the land on which the monument sat to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, but a federal appeals court wasn't buying that subterfuge and rejected the Congressional land transfer. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court where, two weeks ago, the Court's activist, conservative majority said basically that putting religious symbols on government property does not constitute a violation of the important constitutional wall between church and state.

The Supreme Court sent the decision back to the Federal Court of Appeals and told them to rethink their decision in light of the Supreme Court's new logic on the porousness of the wall between Church and State.

The Gods had spoken. Their word is law. Fiat accompli!

Or was it?

This past Sunday night a vandal or vandals unknown drove out into the Mojave, climbed atop Sunrise Rock, and removed the large metal cross. Maybe the esteemed justices should have posted a guard!

That, of course, puts me in mind of Chief Justice John Marshall and his Supreme Court who ruled in the 1830's that the Indian tribes east of the Mississippi River were Sovereign Nations, and, as such, President Andrew Jackson could not cause them to be removed to the barren wastes of Oklahoma. Andy Jackson reportedly said after hearing that decision, "John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!" The result was, of course, that the Five Civilized Tribes began their long march to Oklahoma (and Missouri and Arkansas) in what history would eventually label "the trail of tears." The Court could talk and vote until kingdom come, but Andy had the troops.

I didn't agree with the Supreme Court's decision regarding the Mojave cross, but the correct way to resolve the matter is to work to change the Court - not to steal the cross. We are a nation of laws, even if Andy Jackson and a couple of California vandals failed to realize it.

That said, there is something downright heartwarming about seeing the Liberty Institute go apocalyptic!

1 comment:

nick said...

Why are people so bothered by this? It was placed there to honor veterans, soldiers that have laid their lives on the line for the same people that are trying to have it removed? This must be the same group of people that insist stores sell holiday trees instead of Christmas trees. A marine friend of mine told me one time when religion came up in the conversation, "everyone believes in god under fire." I think we should replace the one that was stolen. I just don't see how this cross placed there in honor of veterans, soldiers that have gave their lives and continue to put their lives on the line every day to keep all of our families and loved one safe here in the US could really be offensive. We should be thankful, not tearing down monuments that have been there for decades honoring our veterans. Just seems kind of sad to me. They should spend their energy on real problems that really affect people, such as crime, drugs, things that claim victims every day in their cities. Not on tearing down a cross that has been there decades out in the middle of the desert. I just don't understand this, am I missing something here?