September 11, 2001, was a horrible day for America. Everyone in the country was touched in some way by that event–either they knew someone who was injured or killed, or they saw the pictures of people jumping out of buildings and understood the horrors of the attack. There were some amazing stories that came out after the attack about people whose courage and clear thinking saved lives and people whose faith upheld them as their world literally collapsed. One of the most moving things was the ‘cross’ found in the rubble that became a place where people prayed and left flowers. That cross was slated to be included in the memorial museum remembering September 11th. The atheist group American Atheists protested and sued. A federal judge in the Southern District of New York threw the case out of court. American Atheists appealed.
Yesterday, Fox News posted an update of the story.
The article reports:
The appeals court ruling Thursday cites an amicus brief filed by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a nonprofit law firm that specializes in church-state law and protecting the free expression of all religious traditions.
“We’re thrilled that the court picked up on this issue,” said group lawyer Eric Baxter, whose brief argued that American Atheists had no right to bring a lawsuit in the first place. “Courts should not allow people to sue just because they claim to get ‘dyspepsia’ over a historical artifact displayed in a museum.”
The museum officially opened on May 21.
The judge has now given the plaintiffs until July 14 to file supplemental legal briefs before deciding whether the case will proceed. Among the questions that must be answered in the new filings is how the offensiveness of the cross, which the plaintiffs view as a Christian symbol for all 9-11 victims, becomes a “constitutional injury.”
The other question is — if the plaintiffs indeed feel displaying the cross “marginalizes them as American citizens” — then how is that a “particular and concrete injury” compared to just “the abstract stigmatization of atheists generally.”
The judge has also asked the plaintiffs to substantiate their claim the museum and Sept. 11 memorial are getting taxpayer dollars.
If we don’t stand up for the First Amendment, we will lose the privileges included in it.