One of the things I've seen several times in this thread is a slippery-slope argument about how the names of cities and towns could come under attack for having names connected with religion.
Give it up, it's not going to happen; that issue has nothing to do with the issue at hand. Just because a city is named Los Angeles ("City of Angels") or St. Josephs (after a Catholic saint) or anything else with possible religious conotations does not make it an impermissible endorsement of religion by the government. It doesn't even come close. A city is not the government, it is a place
. The name is entrenched in its history. Most of the names are very old now and even if they did have a religious basis in the choice of naming by the original residents, it has become a secular reality. The ACLU is not going to run around trying to get cities renamed on account of there being some possible religious interpretation or significance in the name of the place.
The only scenario I can think of where such a situation would come into play would be if there was a city today (lets call it "Springfield" out of homage to something we might see in a Simpsons episode) where the elders and the city government got together and decide to name the place "Christiantown," issuing a proclamation that this is done to inform all who come there that the people living therein are good law abiding Christian folk. Now you've got an actual act, directly by the government, to establish religion, with no longstanding intervening period (hundreds of years) to give the name a secular basis.
The mission of the ACLU is not to rub out all religious influence in the history and culture in America. If you think it is, then how do you explain the fact that the ACLU has taken and won cases for citizens fighting government to express
their religious beliefs? Would someone who is anti-ACLU please address this?
They are tolerant of people's religious beliefs. Why paint them as taking up cases when "someone feels offended over someone else's religious beliefs?" This is not what the ACLU is doing. That argument is just a straw man fallacy, designed to change the opponent's position to something it is not and then deride it as "whiny and immature."
Perhaps one of our resident lawyers (if any of them are still talking to me
) can clarify one other point. I'm not sure that another outside group could step in and defend the county in this lawsuit pro bono without some sort of standing in the matter. If the county is the named defendant in such an action, don't they have to at least have some direct representation in the lawsuit?
, you and I will always be on speaking terms
We can always tolerate each other's opinions, right? If I understand your question correctly, you're asking if an outside group can step in and represent the City's case pro bono without the City staying involved in the matter (i.e., agreeing to the free representation); you are correct, the outside group would not have standing. You've got to have the cooperation of one of the parties who has standing to be able to represent them. However, despite this, you could still file an amicus brief with the Court stating legal arguments on behalf of the issues, if
the parties who do have standing took the matter to trial (they just didn't invite you to specifically represent one of them).
The only thing I can think of to help fight for the seal would be an attempt by concerned local citizens to seek an injunction from a judge prohibiting the city government from changing the seal on some sort of equitable grounds (a very remote longshot at best). The ACLU would then presumably move to intervene in that case, and you'd be able to have the argument there (between the outside pro bono group, fighting on behalf of the seal, and the ACLU, using establishment grounds).