Another court hears fight over Pensacola cross

Pensacola cross

Oral arguments are scheduled for today over a public cross that could be taken down if atheist plaintiffs succeed with their lawsuit.

The American Humanist Association (AHA) and the Freedom from Religion Foundation filed for summary judgment in April 2017 on behalf of local residents, arguing that the City of Pensacola’s large cross, maintained by the city in a city park, violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

The District Court ruled against the City in June 2017, and the City appealed a month later.

That brings the case to today’s argument before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta, Georgia.

Erected in 1941, the cross has been included in Memorial Day and Veterans Day celebrations, and it was the site of a community-wide memorial site after the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

On the other side of the First Amendment issue is Becket attorney Joe Davis, who says the legal arguments against the cross are too broad.

“They effectively say that crosses are unconstitutional under the First Amendment, no matter what,” Davis tells OneNewsNow.

“There’s no other facts that’s relevant other than that it’s a cross,” he continues, “and our view is that the Constitution is not a body of some sort of distinct hostility to one particular symbol.”

Becket also contends in its court brief that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on an Establishment Clause test for legal purposes, which focuses on history and thus makes the historical cross legal and constitutional.

“So this cross has very much become a part of the fabric of Pensacola, for reasons religious and non-religious,” Davis says. “And the point of this lawsuit is to erase that part of Pensacola’s history.”