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Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly

Abstract

This Note examines two recent conflicting Ninth Circuit decisions concerning religious displays on publicly-owned land and advocates for the uniform application of a clear standard to this recurring question. In Carpenter v. City and County of San Francisco, the Ninth Circuit condemned the city's ownership of the Mount Davidson cross, applying Article I, section 4 of the California Constitution. In Alvarado v. City of San Jose, it used the more lenient federal constitutional standard to approve the city's erection and maintenance of a statute of Quetzalcoatl, an Aztec or pagan deity. The different approaches in these two functionally similar cases might partly be explained by a social and judicial trend embracing multiculturalism. While recognizing the immense value of a pluralistic society, this Note concludes that the law should be applied evenly to accept or reject such displays.

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