High court call not likely to preserve county seal
Despite a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld a Ten Commandments plaque in Texas, Los Angeles County Counsel Raymond Fortner Jr. on Monday released an analysis arguing the decision would not bolster the case for returning the cross to the county seal. Fortner wrote that a court would likely find the cross on the previous seal was intended to represent religion. He noted that when the seal was approved in 1957, transcripts showed county officials wanted the cross to represent the religious life of the community. Last month, Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke asked Fortner to determine whether the high court ruling would help the county oppose an ACLU request to remove the cross from the county seal. Burke joined with Supervisors Gloria Molina and Zev Yaroslavsky last year to remove the cross from the seal in several 3-2 votes, arguing that the county could not beat the American Civil Liberties Union in court. Since the ACLU last year threatened to sue unless the county removed the cross from the seal, the county has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars replacing the seal on thousands of buildings, vehicles and signs. Attempts to gather enough signatures for a ballot measure to decide whether the cross should return to the seal have failed three times. Troy Anderson can be reached at (213) 974-8985 or by e-mail at160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 But Burke felt the Supreme Court ruling in the Texas case might give the county an argument to keep the cross on the seal. Douglas Kmiec, a national constitutional law expert and professor at Pepperdine University, said Fortner’s arguments are “obviously inclined to having this matter go away.’ “I think the legal opinion is useful for those seeking re- election who want to disguise their decisions as being compelled by the Constitution,’ Kmiec said. Both Molina and Yaroslavsky face re-election next year. “It’s largely a political choice because the constitution permits appropriate references to religion, when it is not for the purpose of establishing a church, or advancing religion, but merely to emphasize the importance of a cultural feature,’ Kmiec said.