What do people think the Constitution requires as to American cross medals?
rs at robertsheridan.com
Fri Apr 23 10:23:00 PDT 2010
The problem with changing the design for these medals and decorations
now is that there doesn't seem to be a compelling need. Jews and Muslims
are not demanding action as a matter of religious freedom, unlike, by
comparison, the case of the appearance of a cross above a city.
Perhaps a calculation has been made by potential objectors that they
don't have standing, not being a medal winner, or that the politics of
the moment are not ready or ripe. The plaintiff in the Under God case a
few years ago may have had doctrine on his side, but he didn't have the
momentum seen in cases of anti-Black and anti-Gay forms of
discrimination. Plaintiffs are entitled to pick their battles with care
and would be well-advised to do so.
Nevertheless, I suspect that if military decorations were first being
instituted today, there would be greater sensitivity to the plural
nature of the country, and hesitation, before using the cross as the
symbol of the nation's recognition, honor, and gratitude.
Volokh, Eugene wrote:
> The recent discussion makes me ask this – does the Establishment
> Clause require the U.S. government to change the design and the name
> of the Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross, and the
> Distinguished Flying Cross? Or is the history of those medals
> sufficient to justify retaining them, even if it were impermissible to
> create them today?
> I’m not asking what we think the government ought to do, as a matter
> of sound policy (which would of course require it to consider the
> interests of non-Christians who might object to the medals, as well as
> those people, Christian and not, who might object to a change away
> from tradition). I’m asking what, if anything, the government should
> be /required/ to do by the courts, based on their understanding of the
> ban on laws respecting an establishment of religion.
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