There is still hope that Pensacola, Florida's controversial cross will remain standing.
Based on appeals court precedent, federal Judge Roger Vinson reluctantly ruled last week that the 34-foot cross, located in a public park and maintained by the city, is unconstitutional. Pensacola attorney Nixon Daniel, who represented the city, says even though Judge Vinson gave the city 30 days to tear it down, there is still hope for the cross.
"There is a case that involved a similar cross out in the West a number of years ago on federal property, where Congress authorized the sale of the property to a private entity," Daniel notes. "The Supreme Court of the United States said that that was appropriate."
Both the Mojave Desert Cross and the Mt. Soledad Cross in California were saved through that arrangement, so he suggests Pensacola could likewise lease the property to a private concern. If not, Daniel says an appeal is still an option.
"I think that if there is an appeal it'll be an appeal that will be aimed toward ultimately trying to get the issue to the Supreme Court and get some clarification to the disarray that the Establishment Clause jurisprudence is in right now," the attorney offers.
In other words, there are so many conflicting rulings within the federal court system, it will take clear and solid Supreme Court rulings to establish the ground rules for freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.