The following comes from a June 21 story on MyNewsLA.com.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday not to appeal a federal judge’s ruling finding a cross over the San Gabriel Mission on the county’s official seal to be unconstitutional.
The vote, taken behind closed doors, was 3-2, with Supervisors Don Knabe and Michael Antonovich dissenting, according to a brief announcement made in open session.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California sued the board in February 2014, challenging its decision to restore the cross nearly 10 years after legal wrangling prompted its removal from the seal.
A statement issued by the civil rights organization today said the group was pleased by the board’s decision.
“The ill-conceived and misguided effort to alter the county seal and favor Christianity over all other faiths has cost taxpayers at least $1 million,” the statement said.
“Today’s action guarantees that the taxpayers will not be forced to suffer further. It is time for the board to put its time, energy, and resources into representing all the people of L.A. County.”
Antonovich — who together with Knabe had argued that the cross was vital to the seal’s historical accuracy — accused the ACLU of acting like bullies.
“Once again, the ACLU was successful in bullying their way to rewrite history,” Antonovich said. “We ought to have appealed the decision. The U.S. Supreme Court would have ruled in support of it as they have ruled in previous cases. The historical facts are reflective in our educational program — the building of the missions is part of the fourth-grade curriculum in the state’s education code.
“The history of Los Angeles County began with the founding of the San Gabriel Mission which led to the founding of the Pueblo in Los Angeles and the beginning of the city of Los Angeles — the first city incorporated after the county was incorporated in 1850,” Antonovich added.
Mark Rosenbaum, chief counsel of the Southern California chapter of the ACLU, once countered 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.”
The county seal is displayed on buildings, vehicles and official communications.
U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder took the matter under submission in November after a one-day bench trial and made her ruling April 7.
Snyder wrote that the return of the cross “places the county’s power, prestige and purse behind a single religion, Christianity, without making any such benefit available on an equal basis to those with secular objectives or alternative sectarian views.”
“This was an attempt to rewrite history by eliminating religion references from our history and culture — a hateful form of religious bigotry,” Antonovich said.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said it was time to move on.
“The court has spoken and, in the interest of the county, I think we need to move on and focus our attention on some of the more pressing issues, like the crisis of homelessness,” Ridley-Thomas said.