Appeals Court Rules 34-Foot Cross Can Stay at Public Park in Florida

The historic 34-foot cross stands in Bayview Park in Pensacola, Florida. | (PHOTO: CHANGE.ORG)

A 34-foot tall cross can remain at a public park in Florida, according to a ruling from a three-judge panel that reversed an earlier decision from the same appeals court.

The panel with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled Wednesday that the cross at Bayview Park in Pensacola could remain.

Circuit Judge Kevin Newsom, author of the panel opinion, noted that they reversed an earlier ruling against the cross because of a remand from the U.S. Supreme Court.

“In September 2018 … we affirmed a district court’s decision ordering the removal of a 34-foot Latin cross from the city of Pensacola’s Bayview Park on the ground that the city’s maintenance of the cross violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause,” wrote Newsom.

The judge noted that the city appealed the decision to the Supreme Court and after the highest court in the nation concluded that a cross in Bladensburg, Maryland, could remain on public land, they “vacated our earlier decision, and remanded for further consideration.”

“First, plaintiffs have provided no evidence of the sort of discriminatory intent that would warrant invalidating a presumptively constitutional monument,” continued Newsom.

“Second, plaintiffs offer no evidence of deliberate disrespect in the monument’s design. There is nothing unique — let alone uniquely disrespectful — about the Bayview Park cross.”

Becket, a religious liberty law firm that represented Bayview in the litigation, celebrated the new opinion, giving credit to the Supreme Court for their Bladensburg ruling.

“The Supreme Court has now made clear that religious symbols are an important part of our nation’s history and culture,” said Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, in a statement released Wednesday.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which along with the American Humanist Association brought the lawsuit on behalf of a few residents, denounced the decision.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski