Thomas More Law Center to Defend 55 Foot Cross
by THOMAS MORE LAW CENTER
September 10, 2012
ANN ARBOR, MI - The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, announced today that it is representing the City of Frankenmuth, Michigan concerning a constitutional challenge to the 55 foot cross located on public land. The stainless steel cross, constructed with private donations, was erected in1976 as a part of the City's celebration of America's Bicentennial.
In a letter to Frankenmuth city attorney Peter Goodstein dated July 31, 2012, Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) demanded that the City promptly remove the cross from public property or face litigation. The letter claimed they had received a complaint about the cross, but did not name the complainant.
The cross was erected during our Nation's Bicentennial as an historical marker to reflect the City's unique founding as an Indian mission colony in 1845, and the sacrifices of its early settlers.
Earlier in the year, AU received a packet of information relating to the cross from the City in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. AU's letter refers to the cross as the preeminent symbol of Christianity. However, the fact that a cross is erected as an historical monument does not mean that the monument is automatically in violation of the constitutional prohibition against "an establishment of religion." As Justice Kennedy observed in his plurality opinion in Salazar v. Buono concerning the cross on Sunrise Rock,
"[A] Latin cross is not merely a reaffirmation of Christian beliefs. It is a symbol often used to honor and respect those whose heroic acts, noble contributions, and patient striving help secure an honored place in history for this Nation and its people."
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center commented, "Current Supreme Court tests used to determine the constitutionality of crosses on public land are fact intensive. Accordingly, we will officially respond to AU's demand letter after reviewing the material the City provided them and conducting our own investigation on the history of the City's celebration of America's Bicentennial and the Frankenmuth cross."