The installation of the cross has resulted in a lawsuit by American Atheists, a nonprofit group based in New Jersey, claiming that the cross was impermissible under state and federal Constitutional law:
But the move quickly provoked a lawsuit from American Atheists, a nonprofit group based in New Jersey. It argued that because the cross is a religious symbol of Christianity and the museum is partly government financed and is on government property, the cross’s inclusion in the museum violates the United States Constitution and state civil rights law. The lawsuit, in turn, provoked the ire of the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative public interest law firm, as well as others.Context is everything here. The steel was a rallying point and a measure of comfort for those who saw it in the wake of the attacks and it has a religious significance. How those concepts are expressed and how the artifact is displayed will determine the outcome.
Now, the dispute over the “World Trade Center cross” is becoming the latest in a string of heated conflicts over how to memorialize the Sept. 11 attacks. It comes less than two months before the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and in the wake of a feverish debate over the construction of an Islamic cultural center and mosque within blocks of the trade center site.
Marc D. Stern, who is the associate general counsel of the American Jewish Committee and has long studied church-state issues, said the lawsuit presented “an extra-difficult case.”
“It’s a significant part of the story of the reaction to the attack, and that is a secular piece of history,” he said. “It’s also very clear from the repeated blessing of the cross, and the way believers speak about the cross, that it has intense present religious meaning to many people. And both of those narratives about this cross are correct.”
Ira C. Lupu, a professor at the George Washington University Law School and an authority on faith and the law, described the lawsuit as “plausible.” The outcome, he said, could depend on how the beam was displayed when the museum opened.
Of course, this suit is the last thing that the cash strapped Museum needs right now. It needs funds to ensure that the site opens on schedule and that the museum can operate going forward, both as an educational center and for preserving artifacts in its collection. Considering that the Athiest organization says that they're looking for equal representation, I see room for a negotiated deal before the museum opens to the public.
Meanwhile, news reports indicate that both President Obama and former President Bush will attend ceremonies at Ground Zero to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
Mayor Bloomberg said Friday on his radio show that Obama and Bush would be given pre-selected readings, and that none of the dignitaries would be making speeches.UPDATE:
"This cannot be political," he said.
When Bush was president, he visited the site on anniversaries, but did not participate in the morning ceremony where the names are solemnly read aloud. Obama has also visited at other times, but never for the name-reading ceremony.
Also for the first time, the names of all the people killed at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the field in Shanksville, Pa., will be read aloud. In previous years, just the names of the trade center victims were read.
The ceremony will also include several current and former governors, along with Bloomberg and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Westfield has signed a long term deal with the Port Authority to handle the retail site development.
The Port Authority has a tentative deal with mall operator Westfield Properties to bring retail and restaurants to the World Trade Center site, the Journal and Post report. Westfield—an Australia-based company that also operates the concessions at JFK—would pay $612.5 million of the expected $1.55 billion retail construction costs in exchange for a 50 percent stake in the project. (The Port Authority would foot the rest of the bill.)Yesterday, the Port Authority authorized more contracts for construction in and around Ground Zero, including at the Vehicle Security Center that is located on the site of the former Deutsche Bank building:
- Authorized the award of a construction trade contract to Zwicker Electrical Co. Inc., for electrical, telecommunications, security and fire alarm systems for the World Trade Center Vehicle Security Center.
- Authorized the award of a construction trade contract with Rael Automatic Sprinkler Co., Inc., for a fire protection system for the World Trade Center Vehicle Security Center.
- Authorized the award of a construction trade contract with WDF Inc., for a heating and air conditioning system for the World Trade Center Vehicle Security Center.
- Authorized the award of a construction trade contract with Pace Plumbing Corp., for plumbing for the World Trade Center Vehicle Security Center.
- Authorized the award of a construction trade contract with Skyline Steel Corporation for miscellaneous iron for the World Trade Center Vehicle Security Center.
- Authorized the award of a contract to Berardi Stone Setting Inc., for the pre-purchase, storage and handling of granite pavers and curbs for the World Trade Center Streets Program.
- Authorized the award of a construction trade contract to Delta Sheet Metal Corp. for a ventilation system for the World Trade Center Retail and Parking Pre-Tenant Fit-Out.
- Authorized the award of a construction trade contract to WDF Inc., for a plumbing system for the World Trade Center Retail and Parking Pre-Tenant Fit Out.
- Authorized the award of a construction trade contract to WDF Inc., for a heating and air conditioning system for the World Trade Center Retail and Parking Pre-Tenant Fit Out.
- Authorized the award of a construction trade contract to Rael Automatic Sprinkler Company Inc., for a fire protection system for the World Trade Center Retail and Parking Pre-Tenant Fit Out.
- Authorized an increase of $45.2 million to certain existing World Trade Center contracts to perform design and construction work to support adjacent stakeholder work, permanent power relocation requirements and tenant modifications.
In a bit of bad news for Larry Silverstein and the Port Authority, UBS has decided against relocating from Connecticut to Ground Zero due to its ongoing reduction in workforce and uncertain business situation. This means that Silverstein will have to look for another major tenant to help fill the buildings he's hoping to construct at Ground Zero.