WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide whether a 93-year monument to veterans of the World War I should be removed from public territory in Maryland because it is shaped like a cross.
The the most recent church-state skirmish to come before the judges looking at veteran organizations against the American humanitarian union, representing atheists, agnostics and other secular groups. His slogan is "Good without God".
For the last few decades, the Supreme Court has generally set protection for religious groups and individuals. In recent years, he thought that a Missouri church could receive federal funds, private companies could avoid federal health regulations on contraceptives and a New York City could open meetings with Christian prayers.
The 40-foot cross was built in 1925 by the American Legion and "a group of dead mothers," according to the Maryland National Park and the Maryland Design Committee, which wants to stay alone. Appreciating 49 men from the county of Prince George, who died in the war, is listed in the National Register of Historical Places.
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The Committee took over the property in 1961 and maintained it with public funds. It is housed in an intersection of three streets that is now the busiest junction of the prefecture.
The Supreme Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, based in Richmond, judged 8-6 last October that the Latin cross is the "dominant symbol of Christianity" and ordered it to be removed or destroyed. He approved with his opponents that they decided that the monument seems to honor the Christian veterans above the others.
The Commission and the American Legion say this is not the case. They claim that the monument had a secular dedication and was used as a venue for patriotic events dating back almost a century. The cross, they say, represents the symbol of the dead World War.
"This court has recognized that passive displays – especially monitors that have remained uncontested for decades – can use constitutional religious symbols to convey a largely non-religious message," they argue in court documents.
Almost 20 military, veteran, religious and conservative groups have asked the Supreme Court to intervene, a huge figure for a case that had not yet been granted. The lawyers of the committee and the American Legion say that if it is allowed to stand, the judgment of the court of appeal will jeopardize hundreds of similar public monuments, including those at the Arlington National Cemetery.
"A group's agenda should not reduce the sacrifice made by American veterans and their families," said David Cortman, senior adviser to the Conservative Alliance for the Defense of Freedom. "Infected emotions of a passerby do not amount to a constitutional crisis" .
The group that denies the monument calls it a "monolithic Christian cross" that is in poor condition and poses a security risk. Government funding for maintenance and rehabilitation, he says, represents "excessive engagement with religion."
He also disagrees that the monument was secular from the beginning, claiming it was considered a "Cross Calming" to symbolize the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and that the events held during the decades were characterized by Christian prayers.
Rachel Laser, president of the United States for separating the Church and the State, said that veterans can be honored "in ways that do not promote a particular religion and that they respect the religious diversity of Maryland citizens, including veterans. the cross is unconstitutional. "
The federal courts have differently ruled on similar monuments. Associate Judge Neil Gorsuch disagreed as a judge hearing appeals in 2010 when the 10th Circuit refused to reconsider the decision of a committee that the crossroads of monuments violate the Constitution.
"Our court has repeatedly incorrectly applied the rational observer test and apparently will continue to do so until we stop," said Gorshuh.
Now, the Supreme Court, with five conservative judges after Affiliate Justice Brett Kavanaugh's affirmation last month, could have just given such an urge.
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