Demonstrations in Los Angeles Against Changing the County Seal

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," June 8, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY HOST:  In the "Factor follow-up" segment tonight, a fight-back against the ACLU (search) in southern California.  Hundreds of people showed up today to tell the L.A. Board of Supervisors they do not want to change the county seal. -- Both sides of the street were lined with demonstrators.

And, as we have been reporting, the ACLU is threatening to sue L.A. County if it does not remove the seal, which has been in place for 47 years and symbolizes the missionaries who settled in southern California.

Well, today, the supervisors got an earful from angry southern Californians. -- And we are very happy to see this, by the way. I think we generated a lot of it, because you guys have got to get out there and fight this ACLU or they're just going to take over the country.

Joining us now from Ann Arbor, Michigan is Robert Muise from the Thomas More Law Center (search), which has now entered the fray, as they say.

The supervisors in Los Angeles County are not going to change their opinion.  3-2 they reiterated today they want the seal off.  The bogus argument about funding is now down the drain because you guys are -- would represent that pro bono (search).  But tell us how you got involved in this and what you're going to do?

ROBERT MUISE, THOMAS MORE LAW CENTER:  Well, on June 1, the county supervisors originally voted to remove the seal to cave in to the ACLU demands.  And people obviously were very irate by that.  We are contacted by many people.

In fact, we did your radio show last week.  And an individual who listened to it contacted us and he wanted us to bring an action on his behalf, which we did on Friday. We actually sued the Los Angeles County and the supervisors because the seal, as adopted in 1957, does not convey a religious message.  It conveys the culture and social significance of many of those symbols, including the cross, the influence of Christianity in California.

But now by the county supervisors removing that cross, singling it out for disfavored treatment, they are conveying an impermissible message of hostility towards Christianity, which the establishment clause forbids.


MUISE:  And we have taken positive action.

O'REILLY:  Let me stop you there.  So somebody heard "The Factor" radio program about this when you were on. They called your office in Michigan. You said, we'll take the case. You're filing suit against Los Angeles County and who else?

MUISE:  And the board of supervisors, which is the governing body.

O'REILLY:  OK, -- all right, themselves.  And you're saying, look, you are being prejudicial against what?

MUISE:  Against Christianity, because the symbol itself does not convey a message, despite what  the ACLU claims.  That symbol is completely defensible.  And as you stated, we made a public statements that we would represent the county against the ACLU.

O'REILLY:  Right.

MUISE:  Well, now the county has caved in.  And they're cooperating with the ACLU to remove Christianity.  And what they're saying now to the citizens of Los Angeles County and the demonstration at that hearing today I think shows that.  They're demonstrating and showing, the county is now to the citizens...

O'REILLY:  Listen, here's the tragedy of it.  If it were put to a vote in L.A. County, it would overwhelmingly pass to keep the seal the way it is.

We have the ACLU, we have three supervisors, it's political.  They don't care about the money, because there is no money involved.  And "The Los Angeles Times," of course, taking the ACLU's side.

But the folks want to keep the seal, as anybody would, because it's not necessarily to do this anti-Christian campaign.  Do you have precedent in the law?  Because Redlands, California, also took their cross off their seal, which is, you know, a few miles to the east.  Do you have precedence to win this case, sir?

MUISE:Yes, absolutely.  I mean, unfortunately, many of the municipalities are caving in, but the Supreme Court precedent is quite clear, that not only can the government not endorse or promote religion, they cannot exhibit or convey a message of hostility or disfavoritism towards religion.

In this case, that's what they're doing.  The government must remain neutral.  And so, we're going to stand up to the ACLU.  Christians aren't going to roll over and let the ACLU remove every vestige of Christianity from the public square, particularly when it has historic and cultural significance.

So here, the government must remain neutral. We will stand up for the ACLU. Christians will not roll over and let the ACLU remove every vestige of Christianity from the public square, particularly when it has historical and culture significance.

So here, the county is, by siding with the ACLU, attacking Christianity, which is what they're doing by removing that small cross.

O'REILLY:  There's no question about. There's no question about it.

MUISE:  And the government must be neutral.  So they can't endorse, or promote.  Likewise, they cannot be hostile or disfavor Christianity.

O'REILLY:  All right, are you going to get an injunction to prevent them from doing anything to remove the cross.  Is that your first step?

MUISE:  We're asking the court to declare first that the seal as adopted in 1957 is constitutional.  We want them to declare that they have policy that was adopted June 1 to remove the seal and now reaffirm today is unconstitutional.  And we're going to seek an injunction to prevent them from removing the cross from the seal.

O'REILLY:  Well, good for you, Mr. Muise.  Now how can people get in touch with your organization, if  they want to help you out or of they need your help?

Yes, their Web site is

MUISE: Or they can contact us at (734) 827-2001.

O'REILLY: Their support is obviously very well needed, support is very well needed.  The ACLU has a lot of funds and has a lot of support and Christians need to stand up and fight against them.  And we're there to do that for him.

But it was encouraging to see all of those people out there today, you know, making their feelings known in Los Angeles.

Mr. Muise, as always, thank you so much.  Good luck.  We'll, of course, follow the case and we  hope you win.

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