In a victory for religious freedom, the Supreme Court allowed the Bladensburg Cross to stand in Maryland. As the Daily Signal described the case:
The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 Thursday that a cross-shaped war memorial on public land in Maryland doesn’t violate the Constitution.
In the case of American Legion v. the American Humanist Association, the atheist group had sued seeking removal of the 40-foot Peace Cross in Prince George’s County—just outside Washington, D.C.—contending that the World War I memorial was contrary to the separation of church and state.
However, a supermajority on a court that is often closely divided on hot-button issues determined the history of the Peace Cross erected in Bladensburg, Maryland, doesn’t indicate it promoted a religion, Christianity, in honoring 49 local men who died in the war.
Religious freedom advocates were excited by the ruling. First, the Alliance Defending Freedom:
Bladensburg’s ‘Peace Cross’ honors veterans who gave everything to serve their country, and the Supreme Court’s decision means that the memorial will continue to honor their memory. We commend the court for ensuring that one group’s offended feelings over the memorial won’t diminish the sacrifices of our veterans or dismantle their memory. A passive monument like the Bladensburg Cross, which celebrates those who died to defend our Constitution and acknowledges our nation’s religious heritage, simply does not amount to an establishment of religion.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty added:
The Supreme Court rightly recognized that religious symbols are an important part of our nation’s history and culture,” said Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel at Becket. “We look forward to the coming gap in cable-news programming, as atheist organizations that made bank by suing over harmless religious symbols find a new line of work and learn to look the other way.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan was also pleased with the ruling:
The ruling “ensures that this memorial — a dignified tribute to those who came before us and made the ultimate sacrifice — will stand tall and proud for the ages,” Hogan said in a statement.
While only two Justices dissented, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench to show how strongly she felt. Judicial Crisis Network’s Carrie Serreno pointed out this shows the importance of more conservative Justices being confirmed to the Court:
What is even more concerning than leaving bad precedents on the books is that Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor would have required the cross to be torn down, arguing that every cross displayed on public property presumptively amounts to an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. As liberal groups are at work compiling secret lists of potential Supreme Court nominees in hopes that a Democrat will win in 2020, Americans should ask whether those secret judges would be equally extreme in coopting the Constitution for an aggressively secularist agenda.
Really today was not just a victory for “religious freedom,” but the Constitution.