Yesterday, the Supreme Court was considering whether a cross used as a memorial to those who died in the First World War violated the establishment clause, which prevents government from endorsing one particular religion. Antonin Scalia, the right's intellectual champion on the court, argued that it did not because, well, the cross is a universal symbol and it would be "outrageous" to suggest otherwise. Take it away, your honor:
"It's erected as a war memorial. I assume it is erected in honor of all of the war dead," Scalia said of the cross that the Veterans of Foreign Wars built 75 years ago atop an outcropping in the Mojave National Preserve. "What would you have them erect?...Some conglomerate of a cross, a Star of David, and you know, a Muslim half moon and star?"
Peter Eliasberg, the American Civil Liberties Union lawyer arguing the case, explained that the cross is the predominant symbol of Christianity and commonly used at Christian grave sites, not that the devoutly Catholic Scalia needed to be told that.
"I have been in Jewish cemeteries," Eliasberg continued. "There is never a cross on a tombstone of a Jew."
There was mild laughter in the packed courtroom, but not from Scalia.
"I don't think you can leap from that to the conclusion that the only war dead that that cross honors are the Christian war dead. I think that's an outrageous conclusion," Scalia said, clearly irritated by the exchange.
I'm sure that Scalia being a devout Catholic had no effect on his perspective in this matter, because white male jurists are always impartial. Bias based one's personal background is something that
Wise Latinas nonwhite and female jurists engage in.
By the way, I wonder why more Jews don't vote Republican? Truly a mystery.
Photo via flickr user libear.
-- A. Serwer