California judge won’t bar funds for new L.A. county seal

Thursday, November 4, 2004

LOS ANGELES — A Superior Court judge this week refused to bar Los Angeles County from spending public money to remove an image of a cross from the county seal.

Judge David P. Yaffe rejected a request for a temporary restraining order by plaintiffs of a lawsuit who claim that replacing the seal would show an “unconstitutional hostility” toward religion.

The plaintiffs include David Hernandez, who was defeated Nov. 2 in a bid for Congress; Greg Belluomini, a county employee; Samuel Murray, professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles; David Horowitz, president of the Center for Study of Popular Culture; and Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Santa Monica.

Their attorney, John Eastman, said taxpayers’ money would be wasted, because a group opposed to the new seal was in the process of collecting signatures to put the matter before voters.

But the judge said the claim of wasted funds was “speculative” and that the opponents may not collect enough signatures to quality for a ballot initiative.

The county Board of Supervisors, meanwhile, voted 3-2 yesterday to proceed with the redesign, the Los Angeles Times reported. The board decided in September to remove the cross to avoid a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, which claimed it was an unconstitutional government endorsement of Christianity.

Among other changes, an image of an American Indian woman replaced that of the pagan goddess Pomona. The changes will be worked in over 10 years.

A federal judge dismissed a similar lawsuit on Oct. 19 seeking to block the removal of the cross.

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