Posted by 27 February 2019
A cross in Bladensburg, Maryland, is at the center of a legal case that could allow the Supreme Court to further define just how far the government can go in accommodating, or promoting, religion.
The American Legion and residents of Bladensburg erected the cross in 1925 to commemorate those killed in World War I. The state of Maryland has owned the land that the cross sits on since 1961 and a state commission pays for its upkeep.
The American Humanist Association says that this violates the First Amendment. It brought suit to remove the cross from state land on the grounds that this was an impermissible promotion of Christianity. Maryland has resisted doing this, arguing that the cross has secular meaning within the larger context of being situated among other monuments to veterans.
During oral arguments on Wednesday, a majority of the justices seemed willing to buy Maryland’s arguments. They appeared to be searching for ways to find a secular meaning for the monument, which would avoid larger First Amendment questions. Some justices, however, appeared to find it difficult to separate the cross from its Christian meaning.
The court will return a verdict on this case before it adjourns in June.
Do you think that using a cross on public land as a way to commemorate the war dead is a violation of the First Amendment?