SAN DIEGO — Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Joseph Infranco and ADF-allied attorney Charles S. LiMandri spoke on Saturday, January 15, 2011 at a rally in support of protecting the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit reversed a district court decision and declared the monument unconstitutional this month in a case filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. Speakers at the event expressed their support for the U.S. Department of Justice to appeal the 9th Circuit’s decision.
“War heroes have earned the right to be remembered,” Infranco said. “The memory of those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom shouldn’t be dishonored because the ACLU claims several people were merely offended.”
“The 9th Circuit chose a twisted and tired interpretation of the First Amendment over the common-sense idea that the families of fallen American troops should be allowed to honor them as they choose,” he added. “No one is harmed, constitutionally or otherwise, by the presence of a cross on a war memorial, but there is great harm to tearing these memorials down. The memorial cross should stand in honor of the sacrifice made by our troops.”
ADF represented the American Legion Department of California in friend-of-the-court briefs filed with the 9th Circuit in the case, Trunk v. City of San Diego. ADF has been involved in defending the memorial since 2005. In that year, 76 percent of San Diego voters chose to preserve the cross by transferring the memorial from city property to the ownership of the U.S. Department of the Interior, which was enacted by Congress the next year.
ADF is actively involved in defending similar memorials under attack around the country. “The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm,” Justice Kennedy noted for the Supreme Court in the Salazar decision. “A cross by the side of a public highway marking, for instance, the place where a state trooper perished need not be taken as a statement of governmental support for sectarian beliefs. The Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion’s role in society.”
Many events were cancelled due to physical distancing requirements. Some were replaced with online events using Zoom, etc. and a few presentations were recorded and are available for replay. Online events have allowed some members living elsewhere now to re-connect with those still local. More guest presenters have been involved, another small silver lining for this pandemic. Other in-person events, mainly volunteer opportunities at essential organizations like the Red Cross, were modified and are still being held.
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