Freedom from Religion Foundation attempted to censor cross on county seal; Independence Law Center filed friend-of-the-court brief supporting county.

Today, a court ruling granted freedom to Lehigh County (Pennsylvania) to use its government seal that includes a cross.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled unanimously to overturn a lower court ruling that determined the cross located within the county’s seal violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The seal has been used by the county since the 1940s.

The organization that brought the lawsuit is the Freedom from Religion Foundation, a small group based in Wisconsin that is notorious for using the legal system to pressure local government to abandon any religious symbolism. This organization sued Lehigh County because the cross was not removed.

“Government should not be forced to abandon our religious traditions,” says Randall Wenger, Chief Counsel of the Independence Law Center, the group that filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of numerous states in support of Lehigh County’s ability to retain the cross as a symbol of the county.

“We are extremely pleased with the court’s decision that allows the full use of this government seal,” added Wenger.

Using the recent Bladensburg Cross decision from the United States Supreme Court, the Third Circuit ruled that there is “a strong presumption of constitutionality for established, religiously expressive monuments, symbols, and practices.”