The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California is suing Los Angeles County, following the Board of Supervisors’ decision to put a cross back on the county seal.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and the law firm of Caldwell Leslie & Proctor are suing Los Angeles County for putting a cross on the county seal for the first time since 2004.
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The motion Supervisors Michael Antonovich and Don Knabe to include a cross on the seal’s depiction of the San Gabriel Mission, sparked controversy before it was even passed at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Jan. 7.
It passed with a 3-2 vote, after several citizens expressed their opinions both in favor of and against the motion.
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who voted against the motion, worried that putting a cross back on the seal could expose the county to litigation.
The goal of the change was historical accuracy, according to Antonovich and Knabe’s motion.
“In order to commemorate the significant role of the San Gabriel Mission in the historical and cultural development of Los Angeles County, its image is on the County seal…” the motion read. “The current rendering of the Mission on the seal is artistically and architecturally inaccurate.”
But, the ACLU, who filed the suit on Thursday, called it a violation of the Establishment Clause in the U.S. Constitution, according to a press release.
“Mr. Antonovich and Mr. Knabe are historians in the same way SNL’s Father Guido Sarducci is a priest,” said Mark Rosenbaum, ACLU SoCal chief counsel, in the release. “These supervisors have exacerbated the constitutional slap at all religions by reinserting a Christian cross on the seal by means of a Pinocchio-style fib.”
“The framers of our Constitution understood very well that religious liberty can flourish only if the government takes no sides on religious matters,” added Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU SoCal.
Antonovich and Knabe maintained that their intention was to make the seal historically accurate and to acknowledge the contribution that the San Gabriel mission made in the development of Los Angeles County.
“Once again, the ACLU storm troopers are attempting to rewrite history,” Antonovich said. “However, just as other California municipalities have missions on their seals, Los Angeles County will prevail.”
Knabe agreed that the decision was in the interest of “historical correctness, not political correctness.”
But his statement also expressed disappointment that the ACLU had chosen to engage in what he called a “frivolous lawsuit.”
“While the ACLU has chosen to engage in this issue, today I am up in Sacramento working with a bipartisan group of elected officials to protect our most vulnerable, the young victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking,” he said. “If ever there were an issue threatening individual liberty, certainly it would be the heinous crime of minors, as young as 10-years-old, being bought and sold in the streets of communities across California. That is where I think our attention and resources should be focused…”
For more information about the ACLU SoCal, click here.
A transcript of the Jan. 7 board meeting is available here.
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Source: Santa Clarita News