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A federal judge heard arguments Thursday but made no decision in a legal flap over the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ decision last year to add a cross over the San Gabriel Mission on the county’s official seal.

A civil rights group sued the Board of Supervisors in February 2014, challenging the constitutionality of the panel’s decision to restore the cross nearly 10 years after legal wrangling prompted its removal from the county seal.

The complaint filed in federal court by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California contends that the supervisors’ Jan. 7, 2014, decision to restore the cross was unconstitutional because it “favors the Christian religion over all other religions and divides county residents by religion and by adherence or non-adherence to religious beliefs.”

In a motion introduced by Supervisors Mike Antonovich and Don Knabe, the board voted 3-2 to add a cross to the top of the San Gabriel Mission on the county emblem, which is displayed on buildings, vehicles and official communications.

Antonovich and Knabe argued that restoring the cross is vital to the historical accuracy of the seal.

Mark Rosenbaum, chief counsel of the ACLU/SoCal, responded that the two supervisors “are historians in the same way SNL’s Father Guido Sarducci is a priest. These supervisors have exacerbated the constitutional slap at all religions by reinserting a Christian cross on the seal by means of a Pinocchio- style fib.”

After a one-day bench trial, U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder took the matter under submission and is expected to issue her written ruling at a later date.

— City News Service 


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