ACRU Files Brief Defending Utah Cross Memorials
May 24, 2011
71-Davenport v American AtheistsThe American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) filed an amicus curiae brief in the United States Supreme Court in support of the Petitioners in Davenport et al. v. American Atheists, Inc., urging the Court to grant certiorari to review the ruling of the Tenth Circuit finding memorial crosses honoring slain Utah Highway Patrol Officers to be an unconstitutional establishment of the Christian religion in the state. The ACRU brief urged the Court to adopt an entirely new standard for deciding Establishment Clause cases that is more true to the text and history of the First Amendment. That standard, known as the Coercion Test, would evaluate alleged Establishment Clause violations based on whether the challenged policy, practice, or action involves coercion in regard to religion. Such coercive practices are what the framers meant to prohibit in adopting the Establishment Clause, for this is what an Establishment of Religion meant at the time. The framers did not mean, however, to prohibit any voluntary, public, religious speech, or religious expression or symbolism, which do not involve any such coercion.
ACRU General Counsel Peter Ferrara said, “This case presents an opportunity for an historic, landmark ruling that will return Establishment Clause law to the language and history of the Constitution and intent of the framers, freeing religious expression from government prohibition and control. It is long past time to establish a principled foundation for Establishment Clause law rooted in the Constitutional text and our nation’s history and cultural heritage.” The brief urged the Court to follow the example of its landmark ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, where it closely analyzed the text and history of the Second Amendment to recognize the individual right to keep and bear arms that the framers intended.
Download the brief here. (PDF)