ACLU Threatens Another Lawsuit Over a Cross


Jay Sekulow

June 25, 2011

3 min read




Today we applaud the local government of a Louisiana Parish for its decision to stand-up against the ACLU.  The Parish, which is under attack by the ACLU for plans to permit the construction of a memorial that includes a cross to honor hurricane victims, is on firm legal ground.  We sent a letter to the president of St. Bernard Parish in Chalmette, LA providing a legal analysis of why their decision to permit construction of a memorial that includes a cross is constitutional.


Once again, the ACLU is trying to sanitize America by embracing a legally flawed perspective designed to intimidate local government officials to remove all religious symbols this time involving a memorial on private property built with private funds.  Without question, the decision to build a memorial that includes a cross on private property in St. Bernard Parish is constitutional and is supported by extensive case law.  The ACLU is attempting to intimidate local government officials, and were delighted that officials have decided to stand-up against the ACLU and reject those bullying tactics.  We admire the leadership of St. Bernard Parish and stand ready to assist them if necessary in protecting their right to permit construction of a memorial honoring victims of Hurricane Katrina.


The ACLU sent officials a letter in late July criticizing plans by St. Bernard Parish to permit a memorial that will feature a cross saying the use of the religious symbol violates the constitution.  In our informational letter to St. Bernard Parish President Henry Junior Rodriguez, we contend that the plans to construct the cross memorial are fully consistent with First Amendment precedent, and the ACLU demand to eliminate the use of the cross amounts to censorship.  We state:  The speech activities of private citizens responsible for funding, planning, and building this memorial are fully protected by the First Amendment, which forbids the government from prohibiting the free exercise of religion or abridging the freedom of speech.


Our letter concludes:  Given the clarity of First Amendment law with regard to the free speech rights of private citizens, only a fundamental misunderstanding of the facts (i.e. the private ownership of the location of the memorial) can explain the Louisiana ACLUs insistence on having the Hurricane Katrina memorial moved or changed.  The Establishment Clause neither requires nor allows government suppression of private religious expression.  We admire your commitment to honoring the freedom of speech of the memorials organizers and your willingness to stand up to the Louisiana ACLU on this issue.


We have also been deeply involved in protecting another memorial which includes a cross.  We represented members of Congress in filing legal briefs in support of the Mt. Soledad memorial in San Diego which includes a cross honoring those who died in war.  In that case, the Supreme Court put on hold a federal court order that would have removed the cross so legal appeals can move forward.  Congress also has passed legislation designed to save the memorial.