High Court Decision in Salazar v. Buono

  • April 28, 2010

The U.S. Supreme Court today overturned a lower court ruling that had ordered the removal of a cross from a World War I memorial located in California's Mojave National Preserve.

Prior to the high court's decision in this case, Salazar v. Buono, a federal district court had ruled that allowing the eight-foot-tall cross to remain on the preserve (which is a national park) violated the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. The same district court later ruled that a 2003 federal law aimed at eliminating the Establishment Clause problem by transferring the property around the cross into private hands was an invalid attempt by the U.S. Congress to evade the district court's earlier ruling.

But in its decision today, a divided Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the lower court had not properly considered the validity of the congressional statute transferring the property, known as Sunrise Rock, from public to private hands.

Read the full report High Court Decision in Salazar v. Buono on the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life's Web site.