The ACLJ filed an amicus brief on Friday defending the statue of Jesus that has stood for almost 60 years as a war memorial on Big Mountain in Montana. The brief was filed on behalf of the ACLJ, U.S. Members of Congress and over 106,000 ACLJ members who have signed our petition to support the memorial. This is the second brief the ACLJ has filed in this case, encouraging the court to allow the memorial to stay.
The controversy over the memorial started over a year ago when Flathead National Forest denied the Knights of Columbus renewal of the special use permit for the memorial that had been issued since 1953. With help from over 70,000 ACLJ members, we filed a public comment challenging that decision and in January of last year the National Forest reversed their position and renewed the special use permit. The renewed permit sparked a lawsuit from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF).
Last summer, we filed an amicus brief on behalf of 18 members of Congress and more than 96,000 Americans urging the court to dismiss the lawsuit challenging the memorial. Then in November, a federal judge rejected the request to dismiss the suit and permitted the legal challenge to move forward.
In our newly filed amicus brief, we represent 11 members of Congress and more than 106,000 Americans who support veterans’ memorials and who oppose efforts to strip from public property recognitions of history and heritage that contain religious symbolism.
The members of Congress represented: Steve Daines (MT), J. Randy Forbes (VA), Michael Conaway (TX), Vicky Hartzler (MO), Bill Johnson (OH), Walter Jones (NC), James Lankford (OK), Jeff Miller (FL), Alan Nunnelee (MS), Steve Scalise (LA), and Lynn Westmoreland (GA)
Our brief was filed in support of the DOJ and Knights of Columbus, who are defendants in this lawsuit filed by FFRF. The defendants are asking the court to grant a summary judgment finding that the memorial is constitutional. Our brief argues that the memorial does not pose a threat to the Establishment Clause and it is not an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.
We contend that U.S. Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit precedent "affirms that the Monument is not an establishment of religion, and the Monument’s history and setting compel the conclusion that it poses no danger to the First Amendment." Our argument is clear: the memorial is constitutional and therefore the memorial should remain on Big Mountain. The amicus brief is available here.
We are grateful for the support of our members who have taken a stand to uphold the First Amendment and the rights it protects and we are committed to continue our defense of religious freedom and liberty whenever it is threatened.
We will keep you posted on developments as this case proceeds.
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