The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that a World War I memorial in the shape of a 40-foot-tall cross can stand on public land in Maryland.
The justices, in a 7 to 2 ruling, said that the presence of the 100-year old Peace Cross on public land does not violate the First Amendment’s establishment clause.
“The cross is undoubtedly a Christian symbol, but that fact should not blind us to everything else that the Bladensburg Cross has come to represent,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the majority opinion.
Lawyers from the First Liberty Institute and the law firm Jones Day argued the case on behalf of the American Legion, which had erected the cross in 1925. In briefs and oral arguments, they asked the court to overturn decades of often unclear and contradictory liberal precedents regarding religious displays on public property. Justice Alito’s opinion agreed that the court’s earlier rule, known as the Lemon test, provided no clear legal guide for deciding the case. The court held that longstanding memorials such as the Peace Cross were presumptively constitutional. – read more