As if by divine intervention, the debate over the separation of church and state was answered today — even as the Supreme Court took up the case of Salazar v. Buono ( 08-472). This picture clearly shows Jesus giving the Constitution to the drafters — resolving any suggestion that the original framers envisioned a separation. It came directly from Jesus and should moot the case heard by the Court today.
Before this evidence was produced, the Court was poised to decide whether religious symbols in military cemeteries fail into an exception under the first amendment. The war memorial in California’s Mojave National Preserve features an 8-foot-high cross that was erected with a plaque commemorating the “Dead of All Wars.” A former National Parks Service member, Frank Buono, sued in 2001 and challenged the cross as violating the Constitution’s ban on the establishment of religion. However, as this picture shows, there was no other deity present. The picture shows the conspicuous absence of Buddha, Muhammad, Yahweh, or any number of Hindu Gods. It is not clear whether the Court can take judicial notice of such evidence and save itself a lot of trouble.
In the meantime, the Obama Administration and Solicitor General Elena Kagan are again at odds with civil libertarians — opposing Buono and seeking to bar the action for lack of standing. This comes at the same time that the Administration is supporting efforts to limit free speech in the United Nations to protect religion from some critics, here. Obama ran on a faith-based political message, here.
The case could create a broad “secular purpose” exception that would swallow the rule. With the replacement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor with Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. the center of gravity of the Court may have shifted since the 2005 cases. It is also unclear where Justice Sonia Sotomayor would stand on such an exception.
Of course, now that the evidence is in, the Court can start to construct a mandatory entanglement doctrine between church and state.
This site has already begun analysis of the picture as shown by dragging your cursor across the various figures.
For the story on the Mojave cross, click here.