FFRF suit removes 14-foot cross from park in Santa Clara, Calif. (March 14, 2017)


The Freedom From Religion Foundation, with member Andrew DeFaria, sued the City of Santa Clara, Calif., on April 20, 2016, to remove a large Latin cross from a city park. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.The cross was located at Memorial Cross Park and apparently commemorated the 1777 Spanish Catholic mission. The Santa Clara Lions Club donated the cross in 1953 and the city had owned and maintained it ever since.

FFRF Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert initially complained to the city about the unconstitutional display in 2012. Despite assurances from the city over the years to “resolv[e] the matter in an expeditious and responsible manner,” no action has been taken to remove the cross. The city, however, removed the sign reading “Memorial Cross Park.”

In January 2017, the city removed the cross and donated it to Santa Clara University, a Catholic institution. The settlement was finalized in March 2017.

FFRF and DeFaria were represented by Attorney David J.P. Kaloyanides. FFRF senior staff attorney Rebecca Markert and staff attorney Madeline Ziegler served as co-counsel. The case, No. 5:16-cv-02072, was before Judge Lucy H. Koh, an Obama appointee.

Freedom From Religion Foundation