Supreme Court Rules Memorial Cross can Stay
The cross towers over a traffic circle in suburban Washington, D.C. where it honors 49 local boys who died fighting in the trenches of the First World War.
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Residents of Prince George’s County, Maryland and the American Humanist Association (AHA) had sued to have the cross taken down, and the American Legion, whose symbol is also on the memorial, intervened to defend it. While the residents and AHA claimed that a cross memorial on public land violated the Constitution, the Court determined that factors, including the history of the memorial, support the idea that it is not religious in nature.
“It has become a prominent community landmark, and its removal or radical alteration at this date would be seen by many not as a neutral act but as the manifestation of ‘a hostility toward religion that has no place in our Establishment Clause traditions,’” he wrote, quoting Justice Breyer’s concurrence in the 2005 decision in Van Orden v. Perry.
The court's decision reverses the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that the cross was unconstitutional.
“For nearly a century, the Bladensburg Cross has expressed the community’s grief at the loss of the young men who perished, its thanks for their sacrifice, and its dedication to the ideals for which they fought,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the court’s opinion. Alito noted that while this particular cross does not serve a religious purpose, removing it because it is a cross would be a religiously charged action.
The Trump administration wholeheartedly supported the high court's decision.