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Salazar v. Buono resource page

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Tuesday, Oct 6, 2009
WHO: ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence
WHAT: Available for media interviews following oral arguments in Salazar v. Buono
WHEN: Wednesday, Oct. 7, following oral arguments which begin at 10 a.m. EDT
WHERE: Steps of U.S. Supreme Court Building, Washington 

Salazar v. Buono: What’s at Stake?

·         May a party who has suffered no harm – a party who is merely “offended” – sue to eradicate religious references on public monuments, memorials, and at public events, regardless of the context of those references?

·         Will the ACLU and its allies continue to receive special treatment for “offended observers” who’ve suffered no harm, or will they finally have to follow the same strong requirements for filing Establishment Clause claims that apply to every other federal lawsuit?

·         May the government resolve disputes over memorials with religious content in a way that allows the memorial to remain displayed, or must the government always eradicate or censor the religious display as the ACLU and its allies demand?

— Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence will be available for media interviews following oral arguments Wednesday before the U.S.  Supreme Court in a landmark case involving a cross-shaped veterans’ memorial currently covered up by a box in California’s Mojave Desert.

Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund, Advocates for Faith and Freedom, and the American Legion Department of California filed a friend-of-the-court brief in June that argues for the lifting of a court order which required the memorial to be covered up. The order was the result of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a man who claims he was “offended” by the cross.

L.A. Times Dust-Up

A four-day online debate between Joseph Infranco and Erwin Chemerinsky on the Supreme Court case Salazar v. Buono
“The ACLU and its allies should not be able to demolish war memorials based on the objection of one person who lives 1,000 miles away and can’t seriously claim to have suffered harm from it,” said Lorence.  “Federal courts prohibit 'offended observers' to sue under every other provision of the Constitution, so why should the ACLU have this weapon of destruction at its disposal for the purpose of dishonoring the sacrifice of American heroes? If the Mojave Cross Memorial is not allowed to stand, then numerous other veterans’ memorials will be vulnerable to legal attack.  Americans want memorials to our nations’ fallen heroes protected.”

In 2001, the ACLU sued the National Park Service on behalf of a retired park employee because other permanent religious displays had not been erected at the site.  Various forms of the memorial cross have existed at the location ever since 1934 when the Veterans of Foreign Wars placed it at its current spot.  In 2004, Congress authorized the transfer of the one acre of land under the cross back to the VFW, a private organization, in exchange for five acres of other land.  The ACLU argued that the land transfer was unconstitutional, and a federal district judge agreed.
“Honoring the memory of thousands of American heroes in a way that has been considered constitutional throughout our nation’s history should not be invalidated simply because one person says he’s ‘offended’ by the memorial,” said Lorence.

ADF funded a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the National Legal Foundation in an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which upheld the lower court’s decision. On Feb. 23, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that they would accept review of the case, Salazar v. Buono. In the meantime, the memorial remains covered by a plywood box.

The Defense of Veterans’ Memorials Project spearheaded by ADF, the American Legion Department of California, and Liberty Legal Institute seeks to defend America’s veterans’ memorials from attack in the courts.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

Legal Documents

Amicus Brief: Salazar v. Buono
Amicus Brief: Salazar v. Buono

Related Resources

ABOUT Jordan Lorence

Jordan Lorence serves as senior counsel and director of strategic engagement with Alliance Defending Freedom where he plays a key role with the Strategic Relations and Training Team. His work encompasses a broad range of litigation, with a primary focus on religious liberty, freedom of speech, student privacy, conscience rights of creative professionals, and the First Amendment freedoms of public university students and professors. Since 1984, he has represented litigation clients across the nation. Lorence earned a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1980. He is admitted to the bar in Minnesota, Virginia, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Supreme Court, and multiple federal appellate and district courts.