Salazar v. Buono and the Establishment Clause - Podcast

Religious Liberties Practice Group

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  Salazar v. Buono and the Establishment Clause - MP3
Running Time: 00:44:28

In 1934, with the permission of the U.S. government, the Veterans of Foreign Wars erected a Latin Cross on a one-acre parcel of federal land as a memorial to veterans who died in foreign wars. Congress in 2002 designated the memorial as one honoring World War I veterans. In 2001, Frank Buono filed suit challenging the cross as a violation of the Establishment Clause. A federal judge held the cross advanced religion in violation of the Establishment Clause. The Interior Department appealed to the Ninth Circuit, and in the meantime, Congress in 2004 ordered the Interior Department to convey the land on which the cross sits to the VFW in exchange for five acres of privately owned land within the same park preserve, requiring that the land revert to federal ownership if it was no longer maintained as a war memorial. Later, the Ninth Circuit agreed that Mr. Buono had standing to sue, and ruled that the display was unconstitutional. The case then returned to the district court, with Mr. Buono asking that the transfer to the VFW be ruled invalid under the Establishment Clause. The judge agreed, ruling that the transfer was an attempt by Congress to evade the court ruling against the cross display. On appeal, again, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court. The U.S. Interior Department petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for certiorari in 2009, which was granted, and the case was argued in October 2009.


  • Hon. R. Edward “Ted” Cruz, Partner, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and former Texas Solicitor General
  • Mr. Peter J. Eliasberg, Managing Attorney, American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California
  • Moderator: Mrs. Susanna Dokupil, Religious Liberties Practice Group Executive Committee, The Federalist Society

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