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Los Angeles County violated Constitution by putting Christian cross on seal: judge

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A federal judge has ruled that Los Angeles County violated the U.S. and state constitutions by placing a tiny cross atop a depiction of a California mission on its official seal, despite claims by local leaders that it was done for historical accuracy.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder comes in response to a lawsuit filed by civil liberties activists and others who objected to the inclusion of a religious symbol on a government emblem and marks the latest twist in a six-decade saga that has seen the county seal redesigned three times.

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“A reasonable, objective observer aware of this contentious history would likely view the county’s recent decision to reintroduce a cross at substantial expense as motivated by a sectarian purpose, despite the county’s appeal to considerations of artistic and historical accuracy,” Snyder wrote in her 55-page written opinion, which followed a one-day trial last November.

The judge granted a permanent injunction against the county’s use of the seal, presumably requiring another make over unless her order is overturned on appeal.

A spokesman for Los Angeles County, David Sommers, declined to comment on the ruling, saying attorneys were still reviewing it. He said a decision on whether or not to appeal would be made by the county’s board of supervisors.

The dispute dates to 1957, when supervisors approved a new official seal that featured illustrations of the Roman goddess Pomona, a tuna, the Spanish galleon San Salvador, a champion cow named Pearlette, engineering tools, oil derricks and the famed Hollywood Bowl. Above that amphitheatre were shown two stars and a Latin cross.

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In 2004, the supervisors, faced with a threatened lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and following a series of contentious public hearings, voted to recast the seal, removing the cross and replacing Pomona with a Native American woman. The oil rigs were removed in favor of sketch of the San Gabriel Mission.

In 2014, five years after a Latin cross was added to the eastern facade of the actual mission, supervisors voted to put one on the seal as well, following a motion by two board members who said the rendering was otherwise “aesthetically and architecturally inaccurate.”

In issuing her opinion, the judge appeared skeptical that accuracy was behind the move, saying that the county made no effort to enforce such artistic rigor with regard to the San Salvador, Hollywood Bowl or prize-winning cow.

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(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Alistair Bell)


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‘Really, really damaging’: CNN legal analyst breaks down how the Lewandowski hearing was a disaster for Trump

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President Donald Trump, by all accounts, loved his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski's performance in the House Judiciary Committee testimony on Russia and obstruction of justice — as did many of the grandstanding Republicans at the hearing like ranking member Doug Collins (R-GA).

But as Lawfare Institute general counsel and CNN legal analyst Susan Hennessey stated on "The Situation Room," the hearing was actually incredibly damning to the president.

"Lewandowski was performing for the president," said political analyst Gloria Borger. "He was performing for Republicans in the state of New Hampshire. If he decides to run for the Senate. And Republicans did get an opportunity today ... to sort of shove it back to the Democrats and say, look, you guys, Barack Obama knew about the Russian meddling, why didn't you tell us."

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Corey Lewandowski was ‘trapped’ by Democrats — he should have declared the Fifth: Ex-US Attorney

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Former U.S. Attorney John Flannery told MSNBC that top aide to President Donald Trump, Corey Lewandowski, was trapped by Democrats during his testimony Tuesday.

During a panel discussion as the hearing continued, Flannery explained that Lewandowski should have pleaded the Fifth Amendment privilege because he ultimately trapped himself.

"I don’t think he was wily and effective and I thought he wore down toward the end," Flannery explained. "Several of the members got elements of the crime of conspiracy. And what people forget is that you don’t have to succeed in a conspiracy. And we have Trump asking him basically to kill the investigation by converting [Jeff] Sessions to their side and he’s told this but he doesn’t stop there. He does overt acts he writes down what the president wants Sessions to hear, he makes an appointment with Sessions, but sessions doesn’t show up, we don’t know if there’s any side conversation there. He puts the document in a safe and then he arranges for someone else to give it to Sessions. Then he has another meeting with Trump."

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WATCH: Lewandowski’s lawyer freaks out, tries to block Congress from asking any further questions

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During the House Judiciary Committee testimony of President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski about the Russia investigation, Lewandowski's attorney frantically crashed the witness table and demanded that Congress stop asking questions of his client.

"Mister Chairman, as you know I am counsel for Mr. Lewandowski—" began the attorney.

"You are not a witness and you should not be seated at that table," cut in House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) sharply.

"I understand that," said Lewandowski's attorney. "I will leave after I register a formal protest based upon the debate that I heard. These seem to be unauthorized questions and I know you choose your words carefully—"

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