US Supreme Court Allows 40-Foot Peace Cross To Remain On Public Land In Maryland
Back in 2014, the American Humanist Association filed a case in the court and asked to destroy the ‘Peace Cross,’ they claimed it violated the church and state separation. While in 2017 Virginia’s US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit said that the historic monument broke the US constitution.
Now in 2019, The Supreme Court of the US on Thursday passed its final verdict on the case and said that World War 1 memorial ‘Peace Cross’ of 40 foot will continue to remain on the public property land of Maryland. The Supreme Court changed the earlier decision of the lower court that said the historical monument is unlawful.
The Supreme Court concluded saying, the World War I memorial cross maintains a secular meaning that agrees with the constitutional separation of state and church. The 94-year old Peace Cross is a ‘historical landmark’ and removing it could be disrespectful.
The Bladensburg Peace Cross received maximum votes, 7- to-2. The Peace Cross is constructed on a busy highway, outside the District of Prince George’s County.
The ‘Peace Cross’ was built in 1925 so as to respect fallen soldiers of World War I and the State authorities currently look at the monument. The Supreme Court ruled against the previous court verdict.
Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg opposed the decision.
The majority of the justices shared 6 different views and presented different opinions with regards to religion and government and two most liberal judges of the court disagreed with their views.
Another two liberal members of the court, namely, Justice Elena Kagan and Justice Stephen Breyer joined other five-justice members.
The case was named as ‘American Legion v. American Humanist Association.
American Legion organizes memorial programs at the Peace Cross location, mentioned the monument respected soldiers and not religion.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote the Supreme Court’s core opinion. He accepted the 40-foot cross was a religious symbol of Christianity.
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.
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.
The opinion of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg states, according to me, when a cross is built on a public place, the government might support its religious content. The cross was never considered as a suitable monument or memorial for Jewish veterans or others who did not agree with Christianity.
Justice Ginsburg further mentioned, by allowing the Peace Cross to remain on the public place, the state holds Christianity above other religions and sends a message of exclusion to non-Christian believers. Non-Christians nearly account for 30 percent of the US population. The court informs them they are not full members of the political society and are outsiders.
American Legion’s national commander funded the ‘Peace Cross’ monument in 1925 said, it was not just about the cross but about the community right to respect its departed heroes.
Names of 49 servicemen died during World War I are written on the ‘Peace Cross’. The court said the cross undoubtedly represents the Christian symbol. During the blessing in July 1925, the local congressman stated that,
Through this cross, symbolic of Calvary, let us keep fresh the memory of our boys who died for a righteous cause.