FFRF complaint removed Latin cross seal from public building (August 30, 2013)

A Freedom From Religion Foundation complaint removed the public display of an unconstitutional city seal depicting a cross in Wauwatosa, Wis.

After FFRF was contacted by a local complainant, it sent a letter on June 18 to Mayor Kathleen Ehley.

The City of Wauwatosa formerly had a cross depicted on its seal, which was modified in 1992. The current seal states “In God We Trust,” but older versions of the seal with the cross are no longer legally allowed to be displayed. The complaint informed Ehley that the old seal was still on display at the Department of Public Works building.

FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott reminded the mayor that the former seal indeed violates the Establishment Clause:

“The Latin cross on the seal is surely a sectarian display. As such, we hold that it endorsees Christianity in violation of the First Amendment. There is no constitutionally defensible reason to display the cross-bearing version of the Wauwatosa seal.”

On August 30, FFRF received a letter from the assistant to the mayor confirming that the seal containing a cross had been removed.

The letter explained, “The City of Wauwatosa has been replacing the old copies of the seal in a fiscally prudent manner, and almost all of those old versions are now gone. I hope I have been able to assure you that the City of Wauwatosa has been complying, and will continue to comply, with the requirements of the State and Federal constitutions.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation