People For the American Way Foundation

Supreme Court Weakens First Amendment


Contact: Miranda Blue or Josh Glasstetter at People For the American Way

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

The Supreme Court ruled today in favor of a loophole designed to allow a 6 ½ foot Christian cross located on federal land in California to sidestep Constitutional protections of religious liberty. In a 5-4 decision, the Court overturned lower court opinions that had declared the religious monument, and the scheme to prevent its removal, to be violations of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. Once the land transfer is complete, the cross will stand on a small island of privately owned land in the federal Mojave National Preserve.

Michael B. Keegan, President of People For the American Way, issued the following statement:

“I am disappointed by the Supreme Court’s misguided and shortsighted decision in Salazar v. Buono. The creation of a loophole allowing for a religious display in a federally owned park was a clear violation of the spirit of the Establishment Clause, and an insult to citizens of all faiths. In sanctioning this blatant circumvention of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has set a dangerous precedent and weakened the First Amendment’s promise of religious liberty for all people.

“The separation of church and state is a bedrock of our democracy, and it’s the Supreme Court’s duty to protect it. The majority in this case has dismissed the legitimate concerns of citizens whose faith is not represented by the Christian cross, and disregarded our country’s core values. This break from the spirit of the Constitution is just the latest in the Roberts Court’s pattern of decisions that push a conservative political agenda from the bench.”