Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
October 26th, 2017
Maryland’s Governor has stepped up in defense of the 92-year-old World War I memorial “Peace Cross.”
Gov. Larry Hogan ordered Attorney General Brian Frosh to file a “friend-of-the-court” brief after the American Humanist Association won its lawsuit to have the structure removed or demolished.
The American Legion is appealing the Fourth Circuit’s decision.
“The conclusion that this memorial honoring veterans violates the Establishment clause offends common sense, is an affront to all veterans, and should not be allowed to stand,” the Republican governor wrote to the Democratic attorney general. “I believe, very strongly, that this cherished community memorial does not violate the Constitution. Your office will be Maryland’s legal voice in this important litigation.”
Frosh’s office has only said that the attorney general is “reviewing” the governor’s letter.
The 1925 monument, on a major thoroughfare near Washington D.C. does not depict, quote, or mention Jesus. “It is merely its shape that the Humanists find offensive,” the Baltimore Sun explained.
A three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to overrule a lower district court that upheld the monument’s purpose as not primarily religious, and therefore constitutional.
Judges Stephanie Thacker and James Wynn, Jr. determined the memorial “excessively entangles the government in religion” and “breaches” the separation of church and state. They decreed, “The sectarian elements easily overwhelm the secular ones” and the memorial “aggrandizes the Latin cross” such that an observer would conclude the government endorses Christianity.
In his dissent, Chief Justice Roger Gregory argued that the Establishment Clause doesn’t mean government must “purge from the public sphere any reference to religion.”
“This Memorial stands in witness to the VALOR, ENDURANCE, COURAGE, and DEVOTION of the 49 residents of Prince George’s County, Maryland, ‘who lost their lives in the Great War for the liberty of the world,’” he wrote separately. “I cannot agree that a monument so conceived and dedicated and that bears such witness violates the letter or spirit of the very Constitution these heroes died to defend.”
The historic 40-foot “Peace Cross,” erected by the American Legion on July 13, 1925, to honor Bladensburg’s 49 fallen WWI soldiers, has stood for 92 years as a gathering place for community Memorial Day and Veterans Day honorings.
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