State Flag Under Supreme Court Scrutiny - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

10/14/03

State Flag Under Supreme Court Scrutiny

A Biloxi man says the St. Andrews cross is a Christian symbol that has no place on a public display. Mississippi's 5th Circuit Court of Appeals denied John Briggs' claim that the State flag violates the separation of church and state. Now Briggs a convert to Muslim, hopes the U.S. Supreme Court overturns that decision. If that happens, it would be a landmark ruling.

John Ellis Briggs has spent 15-thousand dollars of his own money fighting Mississippi's state flag. He says, "It's not so much fighting the flag as it is holding up the constitution and by most interpretations of the constitution, you can not display a religious symbol on public property." The religious symbol he refers to is the Saint Andrew's Cross. Mississippi's Court of Appeals didn't agree with Briggs' argument and dismissed the claim citing no first amendment violation.

"Sons of Confederate Veterans" member John French certianly agrees with the court's ruling saying this is just another frivolous attempt to attack Mississippi's flag. He hopes the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the decision.

But Briggs maintians that it is a Christian symbol and that it violates his first ammendment rights. He also says it excluded other religions.. Briggs says, "As a Muslim, my tax dollars should not be used to display a religious symbol if it's not going to display a Muslim symbol."

John Briggs' first petition was dismissed in the U.S. Federal Court's Southern District in 2001. His latest petition was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court just two weeks ago. It could take several months for a Supreme Court ruling, if the Justices even consider the case.

by:Rebecca Powers

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