A legal challenge to a cross that stands in a public park in Penscaola, Florida is getting another look.
The Supreme Court on Friday told a lower court to take into account an opinion the court issued in June involving a cross in Maryland and ordered the court to reconsider the decisions on the Bayview Cross's removal.
"This ruling is a great development for the city of Pensacola and for the country," says attorney Luke Goodrich of Becket, the law firm representing Pensacola. "The Supreme Court recently issued a 7-2 decision upholding a cross that has stood on public land in Maryland for almost 100 years, and the Supreme Court said that these kind of long-standing religious monuments have a strong presumption of constitutionality and that tearing down these symbols would show needless hostility toward religion. So that ruling is going to be very helpful for our case involving a cross on public land in the city of Pensacola."
The Florida cross is located in Pensacola's Bayview Park and was first put up in 1941. Two lower courts have more recently ruled that the 34-foot-tall concrete cross needed to be removed because it violates the Constitution's prohibition against government establishment of religion.
"For 78 years, it's been a gathering place for the community, and it's taken on a very significant historical meaning and is now a part of the city's history and culture," Goodrich continues. "We expect an order from the 11th Circuit in the next few weeks setting the case for further briefing, and it'll be a few more months before the 11th Circuit issues a final decision."