By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter
Attorney General Steve Marshall is leading a group of attorneys general from across the country in supporting the city of Pensacola, Florida, in a court battle to keep a historic cross on display in a public park.
Marshall led a group of 14 AGs in writing an amicus, or friend of the court, brief, in support of Pensacola in their appeal with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“The cross is woven into the fabric of Pensacola’s history and its presence in a public park does not violate the First Amendment’s prohibition of the establishment of religion, as opponents have claimed,” Marshall said. “To continue down the road of the lower court’s reasoning would open the door to challenges of religious symbols on thousands of monuments and memorials on public property across the country.”
The brief argues that precedent protects the display of historic monuments on public property, even if they are religious symbols that would otherwise be barred by the 1st Amendment’s Establishment Clause.
“States, counties, and municipalities have historically included, or allowed private parties to include, religious texts and symbols on monuments and other displays on public property. The amici States have an interest in maintaining that practice, consistent with a proper understanding of the Establishment Clause,” the brief states.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi also joined onto the amicus brief along with attorneys general from Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah.
Chief Justice Roy Moore’s Foundation for Moral Law also filed an amicus brief supporting the city’s appeal. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is representing the city.
In 2016, two groups, the American Humanists Association and the Freedom from Religion Foundation, filed a lawsuit against the city on behalf of four people had objections to the cross being on city property. A district judge ruled in favor of the two groups and against the city over the summer.