Options are on the table for supporters of a veterans' memorial cross that has been at the center of a legal skirmish for more than a year.
A panel of judges at the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that a World War II-era memorial cross in Pensacola, Florida, must come down. But attorney Joe Davis of Becket, the law firm representing the city, says the court wants to uphold the cross but can't – yet. (See earlier story)
"[The court] it was bound by this old 11th Circuit precedent the cross had to come down," he explains. "But in the same breath we had two of the three judges on the panel say that this case should be further appealed; and that the court should overrule the old precedent that required the cross to come down."
The attorney explains that there are a couple of options: "One is the case could go to the entire 11th Circuit or to the U.S. Supreme Court. So both of those options are on the table right now."
The American Humanist Association (AHA) and the Freedom from Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit on behalf of local residents, arguing that the City of Pensacola's large cross, maintained by the city in a city park, violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Erected in 1941, the cross has been included in Memorial Day and Veterans Day celebrations, and it was the site of a community-wide memorial site after the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Becket is representing the City of Pensacola free of charge. Pensacola is also represented by J. Nixon Daniel, III, and Terrie L. Didier of Beggs & Lane.