Scott Tibbs
blog post
May th, 2004

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Los Angeles could be illegal

From the L.A. Daily News:

Article Published: Saturday, June 12, 2004 - 12:49:33 AM PST

A strong legal argument can be made that the name of the city of Los Angeles -- even worse its formal name, "The Town of Our Lady the Queen of Angels of the Little Portion" -- violates the constitutional requirement for separation of church and state.

Some constitutional law experts say the American Civil Liberties Union's campaign to remove a small cross from the Los Angeles County seal and similar efforts elsewhere in the country help build a foundation for challenges against communities like San Francisco, San Diego or Santa Barbara.


The First Amendment bans the government from making an "establishment of religion," so Los Angeles' name -- a reference to Mary, the mother of Jesus -- could be construed as illegal.

Could it happen? You would think that such a lawsuit would be laughed out of court, and right now it probably would be. But in 10 years, who knows?

I said last summer that Christians were overreacting to the removal of a Ten Commandments monument from an Alabama courthouse. While it is reasonable to object to such a monument, filing a lawsuit to change the name of a major American silly would be unreasonable and downright silly.

In another case testing where the limitations on government "respecting an establishment of religion" are, the Supreme Court ruled that Michael Newdow does not have legal standing to challenge the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance because he does not have full custody of his daughter.

Whether or not Newdow had legal standing, it would have been better if the Court had addressed the issue directly rather than dismissing it on a technicality. It's only a matter of time before someone who does have legal standing challenges the pledge and the Supreme Court will have to deal with it then.

My opinion is that "under God" is not an establishment of religion. The Pledge is a statement of patriotism, not religion.

However, I think that the hand wringing over this matter is a bit much. I'm much more concerned about making sure individual liberties are protected from government infringement (which is a problem) than whether a government school can include the words "under God" in the daily reciting of the Pledge.