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OK for Las Cruces to Have Three Crosses on Its City Seal:

So says a Tenth Circuit opinion handed down today. (The court also upholds the use of similar imagery in some other government displays around town.)

The Supreme Court has held that government endorsement of religion usually violates the Establishment Clause, and quite a few circuit cases have applied this test to strike down the use of religious imagery in city seals. But the Tenth Circuit concludes — in my view, quite correctly — that "Las Cruces's unique history explains why the City's name translates as 'The Crosses' and, relatedly, why the City uses crosses in its symbol," and this explanation shows that reasonable observers wouldn't see the seal as an attempt to endorse Christianity.

Here's the star of the show:

Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
Of course, they could be made to change their name... but of course that would be a transparent attempt to avoid constitutional accountability, like the municipalities that responded to school desegregation by abolishing their public schools. The only proper remedy would be to demolish the city and build another one! Cruces delendae sunt!
9.12.2008 7:20pm
DCH (www):
Good opinion.


Admittedly, I think that icon looks like something you would find at some strange sun-worshipping cult.
9.12.2008 7:22pm
Curt Fischer:

Admittedly, I think that icon looks like something you would find at some strange sun-worshipping cult.


What would a normal sun-worshipping cult's icon look like?
9.12.2008 7:27pm
Henry Bramlet (mail):
Looking at that thing hurts my head...It's like a bad optical illusion. Can't they just put three crosses on it completely separate?
9.12.2008 7:32pm
Joe in NM:
It would look like our New Mexico state flag, a Zia sun symbol
9.12.2008 7:33pm
Dave N (mail):
By comparison, Corpus Christi, Texas has a city seal and logo that just look stupid, though they have no obvious religious theme.

On the whole, though, a city whose name, translated into English, is "The Crosses" should be able to include, you know, crosses in its seal. I think the 10th Circuit got the case right.
9.12.2008 7:34pm
NowMDJD (mail):
And why would somebody want to file this lawsuit? He wants all his neigbors to despise him?
9.12.2008 7:40pm
DCH (www):
Curt Fischer:

Ask the DNC Convention? ;)
9.12.2008 7:43pm
DCH (www):
... the Convention is redudant.
9.12.2008 7:44pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

What would a normal sun-worshipping cult's icon look like?


Pamela Anderson.
9.12.2008 7:45pm
Kent Scheidegger (mail) (www):
"Of course, they could be made to change their name..."

And don't stop at Las Cruces. How dare a government entity imply that Francis of Assisi was a saint! Make them change the name to "Mr. Francis."
9.12.2008 7:47pm
ShelbyC:
And maybe change San Francisco to Mr. Francisco?
9.12.2008 7:55pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
The phrase "get a life" comes to mind. Regardless of one's view on the establishment clause, if this is one's biggest problem, one needs therapy.


By the way, note the citation to Wikipedia on page 29 of the opinion!
9.12.2008 8:11pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
The nearby towns of La Estrella de David, La Pentagrama, and El Monstruo del Espagueti del Vuelo cheered the decision.
9.12.2008 8:25pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
I agree with the "get a life" comment. I think the problem is the core value that America in principle really doesn't favor Christianity over other religions is valid. But it wasn't meant to work itself out this way where thru Court litigation all vesitages of potential religious messages endorsing one religion over another had to be extirpated from the public square.

If you look at America's and the West's cultural heritage, it's every bit as pagan as it is Christian. Does having the 5th day of the week named after my favorite Deity Thor the Thunder God signify Thor Worship? Or does having the third month of the year named after Mars bringer of war imply we are a Greek God worshipping nation? If we can get the secular side to understand these things are the equivalent of Mars and Thor worship perhaps they'd stop filing these lawsuits. But we also need to get the religious side to understand America was NOT founded to be a "Christian Nation" in a public or civil sense. They irk the secular side on with their species "Christian Nation" arguments.
9.12.2008 8:35pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
They could always change their name to
Las Signos Más.
9.12.2008 8:37pm
Jiffy:

If we can get the secular side to understand these things are the equivalent of Mars and Thor worship perhaps they'd stop filing these lawsuits.


Speaking from the secular side, I think the vast majority here do understand it. But there's always somebody, and it only takes one to file a lawsuit. (Way to go Paul Weinbaum!)
9.12.2008 8:51pm
Bill McGonigle (www):
Curt:

Not Sun worship, Son worship.
9.12.2008 8:57pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
The comparison to Corpus Christi is ironically inapt, inasmuch as the god-botherers objected so much to the Navy's plan to name a missile sub after the city that the gummint caved and named the ship City of Corpus Christi.

It isn't only secularists that need to get a life.

I think somebody should have sued and, if the law is truly majestic, the 5th Circuit should have forbidden the Navy to accommodate religion in such a silly way.
9.12.2008 9:11pm
ARCraig (mail):
That's actually pretty creative and distinctive-looking for a city seal. Most of them look like crap.
9.12.2008 9:14pm
Smokey:
Make them change the name to "Mr. Francis."
Wait 'till the Ward Churchill/Michael Newdow contingent realizes what Indiana was named after.
9.12.2008 9:24pm
Germanicus:
Smokey:
Wait 'till the Ward Churchill/Michael Newdow contingent realizes what Indiana was named after.


The dog?
9.12.2008 9:30pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Michael Newdow's an interesting chap. He's certainly no loon like Ward Churchill. Churchill might have some degree of intelligence but I seriously doubt he'd be able to handle himself at the Supreme Court like Newdow did (and for the potentially snide commenters, Newdow handled himself like a litigatory virtuoso. Lawyers who are that good make millions in the private sector.)
9.12.2008 9:33pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Newdow has been compared to Madalyn Murray O'hair. But when it comes to their personalities, the two are the different between night and day. Both are (were) smart, capable of well arguing their case. However she comes across as completely obnoxious and irritating. Newdow's brilliance in favor of a very extreme position might be irritating -- in this sense he's like Pete Singer -- however, again like Singer, he's extremely mild mannered, affable and reasonable sounding.
9.12.2008 9:51pm
Syd Henderson (mail):
ShelbyC:
And maybe change San Francisco to Mr. Francisco?
9.12.2008 6:55pm

That's Senor Francisco to you, gringo.
9.12.2008 9:55pm
trad and anon:
The only proper remedy would be to demolish the city and build another one!
Maybe not in this case, but I think that would be only adequate remedy in a similar suit against Los Angeles.
9.12.2008 11:21pm
Hoosier:
"Wait 'till the Ward Churchill/Michael Newdow contingent realizes what Indiana was named after."

What? It's named "Indiana" because our largest city is Indianapolis. That means "State that has Indianapolis".
9.12.2008 11:46pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
You think 'Indiana' is offensive. Try 'Matamoros'.
9.13.2008 12:27am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
There are a lot of native American names east of the Mississippi, including Mississippi. One is reputed to mean "I'll fish on my side, you fish on your side, nobody fishes in the middle."
I have swum off beaches named Misquamiket, Quanankatog, and drunk Narragansett beer. Lived in CT, MA, MI. I've traveled in states where half the counties have an Indian name and the other half have names vaguely reminiscent of the Revolutionary War or the War of 1812. (And a few towns obviously named by veterans of the Mexican-American War) Somewhere in there are probably a hundred references to a deity. I think we could profitably direct the ACLU's excess energy thataway.
AIM vs. ACLU. You could sell tickets.
9.13.2008 9:11am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
Corpus Christi is in a county that has - I am not making this up - a Farm Road 666. Equal time, baby!
9.13.2008 4:29pm
BR:
"That's actually pretty creative and distinctive-looking for a city seal. Most of them look like crap."

This atheist agrees. It's kind of a neat design.
9.13.2008 4:46pm