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Plano Lawyers Take on Religion in the Mojave

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This week the Supreme Court will hear an argument regarding a war memorial that bears an 8-foot cross above it and sits in a corner of the Mojave Desert. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are among a group of people who want the cross removed. At this time it is covered up by a plywood box.

In Plano, Texas, a team of five attorneys make up Liberty Legal Institute, a law firm that focuses mostly on cases that involve religion and this time they are working to keep the cross right where it is. Even though the on-site legal team is small Liberty Legal Institute utilizes the services of over 120 attorneys in Texas and other areas across the country who step up to the plate when needed.

Among the other religious cases Liberty Legal has been involved in include a third-grade student from Plano who handed out candy cane pens with religious messages attached to his schoolmates and the group of people who donated the monument of The Ten Commandments that is located in Austin at the state capital. Liberty Legal won a 5-4 ruling by the Supreme Court that the monument was constitutional.

As for the war memorial, it was erected in 1934 on federal land by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. All has been quiet regarding the cross until around 10 years ago when someone objected to the religious symbol. A land swap was coordinated by Congress and was thought to have resolved the issue.

It is said that the solicitor general will use this point to demonstrate that the problem is resolved because of the land swap. But chief counsel of Liberty Legal, Kelly Shackelford, wants a resounding approval of the use of religious symbols on public property.

Shackelford cites many other war memorial displays that include some type of religious reference. He believes that this issue should be put to rest once and for all saving organizations such as the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign War from having to deal with these situations over and over again.

But even though their specialty revolves around religious issues it is not all that the firm defends. The firm was involved in the issues surrounding “Troopergate” in Alaska which involved Sarah Palin who was governor at the time. Shackelford didn’t take on the case based on politics but rather as a favor to a friend of his who is a lawyer in Anchorage and needed some help with the case.

A more current case involves a high school student who had been suspended from school two years ago for wearing a “John Edwards for President ‘08” shirt. The dress code at Waxahachie High does not allow students to wear any articles of clothing that carry messages other than ones that promote school pride. It doesn’t matter that the shirt in question was not deemed lewd, obscene or disruptive.

The student went through two law suits in federal court and lost both of them. But Shackelford is getting an appeal ready for the Supreme Court.