[JURIST] US District Judge S. James Otero today dismissed a lawsuit that sought to stop Los Angeles County from removing the symbol of the cross from its county seal. The county Board of Supervisors decided on the change in order to avoid a lawsuit by the ACLU, but the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) responded by filing suit on behalf of county employee Ernesto Vasquez, arguing both that the cross was not a religious symbol and that its removal sent a message of government hostility towards Christians. Judge Otero noted that the arguments were contradictory: "According to the plaintiff, the cross only represents the historic 'influence of the church and the mission of California.' Yet plaintiff maintains L.A. County is conveying a message of hostility to religious groups by removing the symbol from the seal.'' A petition drive headed by the TMLC is now underway to force a voter referendum on the issue. The transcript of the June meeting at which the Board of Supervisors discussed removing the cross is here.