Supreme Court Says 40-Foot-Tall Cross on Public Land in Maryland Can Stay

June 21, 2019 by Dan McCue
The World War I memorial cross at 4500 Annapolis Road in Bladensburg, Md. The Bladensburg Peace Cross, as the local landmark is known, was dedicated in 1925 as a memorial to Prince George County's World War I dead. (Algerina Perna/Baltimore Sun/TNS)

WASHINGTON – A large, cross-shaped memorial to the dead of World War I that has stood in the grassy median of a local roadway for nearly a century, can stay right where it is, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Writing for the majority in the 7-2 ruling, Justice Samuel Alito Jr. said that while “the cross is undoubtedly a Christian symbol … that fact should not blind us to everything else that the Bladensburg Cross has come to represent.”

“For some, that monument is a symbolic resting place for ancestors who never returned home,” Alito continued. “For others, it is a place for the community to gather and honor all veterans and their sacrifices to our nation. For others still, it is a historical landmark.

“For many of these people, destroying or defacing the cross that has stood undisturbed for nearly a century would not be neutral and would not further the ideals of respect and tolerance embodied in the First Amendment. For all these reasons, the Cross does not offend the Constitution,” the justice wrote.

The ruling is significant because of what it says about the First Amendment’s establishment clause, which prohibits the government from favoring one religion over others. In this case, the majority appears to be saying that the establishment clause is not necessarily a bright line rule.

The American Legion and others who fought to keep the cross in Bladensburg, a suburb of Washington, D.C., argued that if the high court ordered it removed, the ruling would have a domino effect, causing scores of war memorials to be taken down across the country.

Their opponents, which included three area residents and the District of Columbia-based American Humanist Association, argued the cross should be moved to private property or modified into a nonreligious monument such as a slab or obelisk.

Two of the court’s liberal justices, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan joined their conservative colleagues in ruling for the cross. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented.

In her dissent, Ginsburg wrote “the principal symbol of Christianity around the world should not loom over public thoroughfares, suggesting official recognition of that religion’s paramountcy.”

The case is American Legion et al. v. American Humanist Assn., et at. No. 17–1717.

Supreme Court

Supreme Court Expected to Forge Ahead With Eight Justices After Ginsburg’s Death
Supreme Court
Supreme Court Expected to Forge Ahead With Eight Justices After Ginsburg’s Death

WASHINGTON — A shorthanded Supreme Court can move forward as usual with the slate of oral arguments already set for the first few months of its new term that starts in October, but having only eight members changes how they might be decided. Among the potentially... Read More

Is Kamala Harris the Democrats’ Secret to Stopping Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee?
Supreme Court
Is Kamala Harris the Democrats’ Secret to Stopping Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee?

SAN JOSE, Calif. — If it seemed like the most pivotal point in Kamala Harris’ quest to help Democrats win the White House was a looming debate with Vice President Mike Pence, that may all have changed Friday evening. Now Harris, 55, faces what are almost... Read More

What GOP Senators Said About Election-Year Supreme Court Picks in 2016 and Now
Political News
What GOP Senators Said About Election-Year Supreme Court Picks in 2016 and Now

Within hours of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death Friday evening, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that President Donald Trump’s nominee would get a vote. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer put out a statement as well. “The American people should have a voice in the... Read More

Trump Zeroes in on Coney Barrett as Likely Supreme Court Pick
Supreme Court
Trump Zeroes in on Coney Barrett as Likely Supreme Court Pick

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump is moving toward nominating Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, according to people familiar with the matter, despite the president saying Monday he’s considering as many as five candidates. Barrett is a favorite... Read More

GOP Appears to Have the Votes to Act as Trump Weighs Supreme Court Pick
U.S. Senate
GOP Appears to Have the Votes to Act as Trump Weighs Supreme Court Pick

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Monday he is likely to name a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Saturday, as Senate Republicans continued to discuss whether to push for a vote before the election, despite furious Democratic opposition. As more senators declared... Read More

McConnell, Schumer, Trade Barbs Over GOP Plans to Rush Ginsburg’s Replacement
Supreme Court
McConnell, Schumer, Trade Barbs Over GOP Plans to Rush Ginsburg’s Replacement
September 22, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is refusing to back down from what is sure to be an intense fight over who will fill the Supreme Court seat now vacant after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In his first remarks from the... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top