Attorney General Curtis Hill announced today he has joined a bipartisan group of 28 states in fighting to protect a historic cross honoring World War I veterans as part of a case with broader implications for the First Amendment.
The 28-state coalition urges the U.S. Supreme Court to protect veterans’ memorials that feature religious symbolism. The coalition’s friend of the court brief seeks to overturn a lower court’s ruling that one such memorial violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
“The First Amendment was never intended to eradicate religious expression and symbolism from government property,” Attorney General Hill said. “Quite the contrary, one expects public memorials and monuments honoring fallen heroes to include words and imagery representing the role of religious faith in our country’s rich tradition. That’s quite different from coercing citizens to participate in or pay homage to any particular faith.”
The case at hand involves a nearly century-old memorial cross in Bladensburg, Maryland, started by community members and mothers whose sons died in World War I, and finished by the American Legion. The initial lawsuit seeks to force the state of Maryland to tear down the historic cross. The Supreme Court’s ultimate decision could impact memorials across the nation, including those at Arlington National Cemetery.