After being threatened with a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, on June 1 the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors proposed removing a small cross from the county seal in a 3-2 vote. The seal points to a number of formative influences on the county, including Catholic missions and agriculture. On June 4, the Thomas More Law Center Ann Arbor, Michigan, representing a county employee, filed a suit in federal district court in Los Angeles accusing the county and the supervisors of sending a "government-sponsored message of hostility towards Christians." Supervisors confirmed their decision on June 8. Robert Muise, an associate counsel with the law center, discussed the case with CT Associate News Editor Stan Guthrie.
Where do things stand legally?
We, on behalf of a county employee, have filed a lawsuit against the county alleging that the county seal, as it stands now, which was adopted in 1957, does not convey a religious message. In fact, it just conveys the importance that Christianity and other factors had in influencing the culture and the history of the state of California and the county of Los Angeles.
However, the county, by singling out the cross and targeting Christianity for removal, really is revising history. They are now conveying a message that is anti-Christian, and this anti-Christian message in fact does violate the Establishment Clause [of the Constitution]. The Establishment Clause ["Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"] requires the government to be neutral. But now by singling out Christianity for removal from the symbol, and really removal from the history and founding of the county, they are conveying a message to ...1