U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder ruled Thursday that it is unconstitutional for Los Angeles to reinstate the image of a Christian cross on the county emblem, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Snyder explained that the cross “carries with it an aura of prestige, authority and approval.”
“By singling out the cross for addition to the seal, the county necessarily lends its prestige and approval to a depiction of one faith’s sectarian imagery,” she added. “Permitting such a change and the associated expenditure of public funds 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.”
In 2014, the L.A. Board of Supervisors voted to reinstate the cross — featured in a depiction of the San Gabriel Mission — to the county emblem a decade after it had been removed, the Times reports.
The American Civil Liberties Union then sued the county, claiming the cross “unconstitutionally favored Christianity over other religions.”
Supervisor Don Knabe voted to reinstate the cross in 2014, and he expressed great disappointment after hearing Snyder’s ruling, “which seems to [him] to be more about political expediency than the core of what this issue is — ensuring the historical accuracy of the Los Angeles County seal.”