26 States Support Maryland War Memorial In Court

| by Diana Kruzman
The "Peace Cross" in Bladensburg, MDThe "Peace Cross" in Bladensburg, MD

Twenty-six states have filed legal briefs in support of a judge’s ruling that a Maryland war monument in the shape of a cross should be allowed to remain in public view.

The memorial, known as the “Bladensburg Cross," was the subject of a 2015 lawsuit by the American Humanist Association, which argued that its Christian imagery violated the First Amendment of the Constitution banning public endorsement of a single religion, according to SRN News.

After U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow ruled that the cross was not unconstitutional on Nov. 30, 2015, the AHA filed an appeal with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Feb. 29, Patheos reports via AHA.

As the appeals process moves forward, organizations and individuals are publicly supporting one side or another in the case.

On March 7, two atheist groups, the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Center For Inquiry, jointly filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief in favor of the American Humanist Association, according to a news release by FFRF. On April 14, attorneys general from 26 states including Florida, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin signed a legal brief supporting the Maryland city that manages the monument.

“One of my primary responsibilities as Attorney General is to protect state and individual rights," Attorney General Marty Jackley of South Dakota  wrote in a news release, according to Patheos. "The State Attorneys General are requesting the Federal Courts to recognize important Constitutional rights and respect the dedication, sacrifice, and freedoms earned by our veterans."

The monument, also known as the Peace Cross, was dedicated as a memorial to the veterans of World War I in 1925. The cross, as Chasanow wrote in her opinion, does not make the monument a religious structure; instead, it is used primarily for the secular purpose of celebrating federal holidays, according to The Baltimore Sun.

"There is overwhelming evidence in the record showing that the predominant purpose of the Monument was for secular commemoration," Chasanow wrote. She also said that unadorned crosses were commonly used to symbolize those killed in World War I.

Sources: SRN News, Patheos, The Baltimore Sun, Freedom From Religion Foundation / Photo credit: David/Flickr

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