The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to decide whether or not a cross honoring fallen soldiers in the Mojave National Preserve is a violation of the 1st Amendment. It will be the first time that the court will hear a case regarding “an establishment of religion” with John Roberts as the Chief Justice.
The current cross is eight feet tall, though a smaller wooden cross was erected by the Veterans of Foreign Wars in 1934 and was maintained by the National Park Service as a war memorial.
The American Civil Liberties Union objected to the cross and filed a suit on behalf of Frank Buono, a former Park Service employee. The suit noted that the government declined to build a Buddhist shrine near the cross.
The case appeared before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court ruled in favor of the ACLU, declaring the cross an “impermissible government endorsement of religion.”
The government has questioned Buono’s right to challenge the cross. Mr. Buono lives in Oregon and, according to government lawyers, suffers no obvious harm because of the cross’ existence.