SCOTUS: 40-foot WWI commemoration cross located near D.C. can remain in place

SCOTUS: 40-foot WWI commemoration cross located near D.C. can remain in place

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The U.S. Supreme Court (Photo courtesy of Architect of the Capitol)

WASHINGTON – A 40-foot cross in Bladensburg, Md. that was built to honor those died in the First World War does not violate church and state and can remain in place, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 7-2 decision Thursday.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer voted with the majority.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

“Destroying or defacing the Cross that has stood undisturbed for nearly a century would not be neutral and would not further the ideals of respect and tolerance embodied in the First Amendment,” Alito wrote in the majority opinion.

“Just as a Star of David is not suitable to honor Christians who died serving their country, so a cross is not suitable to honor those of other faiths who died defending their nation,” Ginsburg wrote in the dissenting opinion.

The “Peace Cross” sits at a three-way junction on Annapolis Rd. and Baltimore Ave in Prince Georges County, which is about 6 miles from Washington, D.C.

It was commissioned by the American Legion and was erected between 1919-25. The cross commemorates 49 fallen soldiers.

When the cross was erected it stood on private property. Since 1961 the property has been under the control of the State of Maryland.

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