City attorney: Lynn Mountain crosses have ‘presumption of constitutionality’

Published 11:23 pm Thursday, April 14, 2022

City of Elizabethton Attorney Roger Day has issued a statement in regard to the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s request to have the city remove the three crosses from Lynn Mountain.
The response comes after the FFRF sent a letter to the city asking for the crosses’ removal.
“Our concern remains that the City of Elizabethton is maintaining an unconstitutional religious display on city property,” FFRF Legal Fellow Karen Heineman wrote to Elizabethton City Attorney Roger G. Day. “As you are likely aware, since our original letter of complaint, the U.S. Supreme Court has modified its analysis for Establishment Clause violations concerning ‘established, religiously expressive monuments, symbols, and practices.’” (American Legion v. American Humanist Association, 2019)
The foundation states its purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church and to educate the public on matters relating to non-theism.
Day provided issued the following statement on Thursday in regard to the inquiries made by the FFRF:
“The City of Elizabethton has received inquiries from the Freedom From Religion Foundation of Madison, Wisconsin questioning the display of the three (3) crosses located on Lynn Mountain on property owned by the City of Elizabethton.
“I have reviewed the current Law regarding displays of religious symbols, specifically, the U.S. Supreme Court Case of American Legion v. American Humanist Association, 139 S. Ct. 2067 (2019).
“I agree with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in American Legion which held that ‘long standing monuments, symbols and practices’ with ‘religious associations’ have a ‘presumption of constitutionality.’
“As such, it is my opinion as City Attorney of the City of Elizabethton that the three (3) crosses can remain on Lynn Mountain on City-owned property as they are a long-standing monument in the City of Elizabethton, they have a presumption of constitutionality and they do not violate the Separation of Church and State.”
The issue has brought concern to the community as one local church provided over 200 free crosses to the community and there also have been demonstrations in support of the crosses.

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