Alito on Stevens: Why so dismissive?

Justice Alito cites the Stevens dissent in Citizens United in today’s case about a Latin cross on federal land.

Finally, I reject JUSTICE STEVENS’ suggestion that the enactment of the land-transfer law was motivated by an illicit purpose. Id. at 24. I would not be “so dismissive of Congress.” Citizens United v. Federal Election Comm’n, 558 U. S. ___, ___ (2010) (slip op., at 70) (STEVENS, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part). Congress has shown notable solicitude for the rights of religious minorities. See, e.g., Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, 42 U. S. C. §2000bb et seq.; Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, 42 U. S. C. §2000cc et seq. I would not jump to the conclusion that Congress’ aim in enacting the land-transfer law was to embrace the religious message of the cross; rather, I see no reason to doubt that Congress’ consistent goal, in legislating with regard to the Sunrise Rock monument, has been to commemorate our Nation’s war dead and to avoid the disturb-ing symbolism that would have been created by the destruction of the monument.

Stevens’s dissent explains, “I certainly agree that the Nation should memorialize the service of those who fought and died in World War I, but it cannot lawfully do so by continued endorsement of a starkly sectarian message.”

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