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Byline: Troy Anderson Staff Writer

No L.A.? It's no joke.

A strong legal argument can be made that the name of the city of Los Angeles
For the city, see Los Angeles, California.
The City of Los Angeles was a streamlined passenger train jointly operated by the Chicago and North Western Railway and the Union Pacific Railroad.
 - even worse its formal name, ``The Town of Our Lady the Queen of Angels of the Little Portion'' - violates the constitutional requirement for separation of church and state
See also: .
Separation of church and state is a political and legal doctrine which states that government and religious institutions are to be kept separate and independent of one another.

Some constitutional law experts say the American Civil Liberties Union's campaign to remove a small cross from the Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850.  County seal and similar efforts elsewhere in the country help build a foundation for challenges against communities like San Francisco San Francisco (săn frănsĭs`kō), city (1990 pop. 723,959), coextensive with San Francisco co., W Calif., on the tip of a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, which are connected by the strait known as the Golden , San Diego San Diego (săn dēā`gō), city (1990 pop. 1,110,549), seat of San Diego co., S Calif., on San Diego Bay; inc. 1850. San Diego includes the unincorporated communities of La Jolla and Spring Valley. Coronado is across the bay.  or Santa Barbara.

``That's absolutely right,'' said Joerg Knipprath, a professor of constitutional law at the Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles.

``The cross is a minor symbol on the county seal whereas Los Angeles is the 'City of Angels.' San Clemente, Santa Monica, Sacramento, San Francisco, etc., are all religious references.

``It's far-fetched at this point. I don't think it's going to happen in the next 10 years. But if somebody said 10 or 20 years ago that we were going to challenge the Pledge of Allegiance Pledge of Allegiance, in full, Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, oath that proclaims loyalty to the United States. and its national symbol.  or this tiny little cross on the county seal, the argument would have been that was far-fetched too.''

The First Amendment bans the government from making an ``establishment of religion,'' so Los Angeles' name - a reference to Mary, the mother of Jesus - could be construed as illegal.

On those grounds, a federal appeals court ruled in 2002 that the phrase ``under God'' was impermissible im·per·mis·si·ble  
Not permitted; not permissible: impermissible behavior.

 in the Pledge of Allegiance if teachers led schoolchildren schoolchildren school nplécoliers mpl;
(at secondary school) → collégiens mpl; lycéens mpl

schoolchildren school
 in reciting it. That ruling was put on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court hands down a final ruling in the California case, which could come by July.

This month, bowing to the ACLU's Southern California chapter, Los Angeles County supervisors agreed to replace a Christian cross on its 47- year-old official seal with depictions of a mission and indigenous people. The ACLU ACLU: see American Civil Liberties Union.  said it found no fault with the seal of the city of Los Angeles, which is surrounded by a rosary.

Douglas Mirell, an attorney and ACLU board member, said he doesn't have insight into where the next ``battleground'' will be but he ``doesn't see'' anyone challenging the name of California cities or counties.

ACLU boards decide whether to challenge crosses and other religious symbols on public property after someone makes a complaint to them.

``The ACLU has been fairly selective about the religious battles it has taken on over the years,'' Mirell said. ``It's obviously a question that divides people, sometimes bitterly. And except in those cases where the law is clear, the ACLU frequently decides its resources are better spent elsewhere.''

However, some attorneys and activists expect the ACLU or other groups to bring more challenges against cities and counties across the nation unless they remove crosses and other religious symbols on government seals and public property.

``I think the ACLU may very well bring similar cases in future years all over the country,'' said Erwin Chemerinsky, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Southern California The U.S. News & World Report ranked USC 27th among all universities in the United States in its 2008 ranking of "America's Best Colleges", also designating it as one of the "most selective universities" for admitting 8,634 of the almost 34,000 who applied for freshman admission .

Since 1999, the ACLU, other groups and individuals have been successful in getting crosses on government seals removed in Los Angeles County, Redlands and La Mesa, Calif.; Zion, Ill.; Stow, Ohio; Bernalillo, N.M.; Rolling Meadows, Ill.; and Edmond, Okla. A federal court allowed Austin, Texas, to keep a cross on its seal after a legal challenge.

During the same period, the groups have successfully argued that crosses on public land must be removed - or forced public entities to give up their ownership of land with crosses - in Ventura, Simi Valley and the Mojave National Preserve Mojave National Preserve: see Mojave Desert; National Parks and Monuments (table). , Calif.

Douglas Kmiec, a constitutional law professor at Pepperdine University School of Law The Pepperdine University School of Law is a law school in Malibu, California. Pepperdine Law offers Juris Doctor degrees as well as LL.M. degrees in taxation law, international law, business and corporate law. , said that if the past is any guide, he expects the ACLU or others to challenge the mention of religion at graduations and the names of cities with religious identification.

``The logic of the ACLU's reasoning would suggest that Santa Monica should be renamed Monica, San Diego should be renamed Diego and on down the line. Los Angeles is a similar reference to angels. The full title of Los Angeles is a distinctly religious name.''

ACLU spokesman Tenoch Flores Flores, town, Guatemala
Flores (flōrəs), town (1990 est. pop. 2,200), capital of Petén department, N Guatemala. Flores was built on an island in the southern part of Lake Petén Itzá and on the site of the
 said the organization only becomes involved in issues when contacted by people who believe there is a problem, and he doesn't expect anyone to challenge the name of Los Angeles or other communities.

``That has got to be one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard. Nobody is considering suing to change city names. If anybody were to bring such a suit, it would laughed out of court and rightfully so.

``We don't go around looking for Looking for

In the context of general equities, this describing a buy interest in which a dealer is asked to offer stock, often involving a capital commitment. Antithesis of in touch with.
 things, but we certainly don't back down in the face of criticism if it's determined that a constitutional issue is at stake.''

Bruce Einhorn, chairman of the Anti-Defamation League Anti-Defamation League

B’nai B’rith organization which fights anti-Semitism. [Am. Hist.: Wigoder, 33]

See : Anti-Semitism
 in Los Angeles, which supported the county supervisors' decision to remove the cross, said the ADL doesn't file lawsuits and doesn't know if there is a good legal argument to challenge the name of Los Angeles.

``It's very hypothetical and distinctively different from very specific symbols of religious faith, whether they be Stars of David, Christian crosses or Islamic crescents,'' Einhorn said. ``We'd have to cross that bridge when it's built. We would rather not stoke fires that haven't been started.''

Jay Seculow, a radio host and chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, a Virginia-based public interest law firm founded by religious broadcaster Pat Robertson - which had offered to defend the Los Angeles County seal in court - said the fight over the seal is part of a trend.

``(The goal is to) purge all religious observances and references from American public life. Will (opponents) try to get the name of Los Angeles changed? Sure. Why not, if they can get the cross removed from the seal?''

Troy Anderson, (213) 974-8985

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 13, 2004

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