A federal court will rule today on a temporary restraining order filed by the Thomas More Law Center to prevent the removal of a cross image from the Los Angeles County Seal.
The restraining order, filed Friday on behalf of Ernesto Vasquez, a L.A. County employee, seeks to stop the L.A. County Board of Supervisors from altering the seal in any way. The Board voted in June to remove the cross from the seal fearing threat of a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union who contended that the presence of the cross amounted to a government endorsement of religion.
A Board vote to adopt a new seal is scheduled for Sept. 14.
The new seal, proposed on Sept. 7, replaces the central image of the goddess Pomona with an American Indian woman holding a bowl and replaces the oil derricks representing Signal Hill for an illustration of the San Gabriel Mission without the cross pictured.
While the judges are preparing to vote on the new seal design, David R. Hernandez, a Republican Congressional Candidate in the San Fernando Valley, has not given up the fight to preserve the seal. He has officially launched Operation Countywide Ordinance, a petition drive which aims to gather 341,212 valid signatures by March 1, 2005 and force the county of Los Angeles to keep the seal designed in 1957 to remain unaltered.
"This effort when successful will preserve the History and the Cross on the Los Angeles County Seal", said Hernandez.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center, said the motion to vote on a new design for the seal is only a deliberate effort to
"A majority of the County Supervisors is acting like puppets of the ACLU,” Thompson said. “They know the petition drive has overwhelming public support. Their hasty action was designed to sabotage the petition drive and thwart the will of the people."
If the new seal is adopted, argues the lawsuit, the anti-Christian message will be permanent, causing Mr. Vasquez and other Christians direct and repeated injury on account of their religion.
Replacing the seal across the county will also cost taxpayers, according to opponents. County chief administrative officer David Janssen, who oversaw the redesign, estimates the replacement cost to be around $1 million.
Robert Muise, Associate Counsel with the Law Center handling the case, commented, "It is important that we stop L.A. County from forging ahead with their anti-Christian policy and adopting a new county seal that is an offense to Christians. It is remarkable that county officials would be so willing to waste taxpayer money and needlessly expend municipal resources to push ahead with this new seal while this litigation is pending. This just further highlights the lengths they will go to advance their anti- Christian agenda."
Supervisor Don Knabe, who has consistently voted in favor of keeping the cross, told the Associated Press his vote will not change tomorrow.
"If I had my preference, I'd keep the old seal. This is an effort to be overly politically correct and not even attempt to fight for what is right," he said.