In Brief: Salazar v. Buono

  • September 24, 2009

On Oct. 7, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Salazar v. Buono, a case involving a constitutional challenge to the presence of an eight-foot-tall Christian cross in the Mojave National Preserve in San Bernardino County, Calif. The case arose when Frank Buono, a former assistant superintendent of the preserve, filed a lawsuit demanding that the National Park Service, which administers the preserve, remove the cross. Buono argued that because the cross is on government land it amounts to a government endorsement of religion and thus violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. After eight years of litigation in lower courts, the case is now before the Supreme Court. The high court's decision has the potential to determine the fate of the cross and similar displays across the country as well as to limit who may bring Establishment Clause lawsuits in federal court.

The Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life provides a brief overview of the case's long path to the Supreme Court and the arguments that the parties are likely to make when they appear before the justices.

Read the full overview In Brief: Salazar v. Buono on the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life Web site.