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Salazar v. Buono

United States Supreme Court
599 U.S. 700, 130 S.Ct. 1803, 176 L.Ed.2d 634 (2009)


In 1934 the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) erected a Latin cross on Sunrise Rock in the Mojave National Preserve to honor fallen World War I soldiers. Members of the public viewed the cross as commemorative, gathered regularly to pay their respects, and repeatedly replaced the cross instead of letting it deteriorate. In 2002 regular visitor and retired National Park Service employee Frank Buono (plaintiff) sued the secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar (defendant), claiming that the cross violated the Establishment Clause, and obtained an injunction requiring its removal. While an appeal remained pending, Congress passed a law to transfer the cross and Sunrise Rock to the VFW in exchange for privately owned land elsewhere in the preserve, specifying that Sunrise Rock would revert to the government unless maintained as a World War I memorial. Buono returned to federal district court to enjoin the transfer law and enforce the injunction to remove the cross. The court enjoined the transfer as an unconstitutional attempt to keep the cross on display. After the appellate court affirmed, the Supreme Court granted review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kennedy, J.)

Concurrence (Scalia, J.)

Concurrence (Alito, J.)

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