The Corner

Law & the Courts

Does a War Memorial in the Shape of a Cross Offend the Constitution?

Yes, according to a majority of the Fourth Circuit.

The case involves the Bladensburg Peace Cross, a memorial to area men who died in the First World War. It has stood since 1925 without bothering anyone until in 2014 the American Humanist Association felt that the monument violates the Constitution’s establishment clause.

The district judge tossed the case, holding that the tiny amount of government money that is spent on upkeep does not endorse religion. But the Fourth Circuit, well stuffed with Obama appointees, held 2-1 that this offends the First Amendment. On the petition for rehearing en banc the court declined by 8-6.

I write about the case in my latest Forbes article.

College students try to silence speakers who offend them and groups like the American Humanist Association try to remove monuments that offend them. The intolerant have been empowered.

Unless the Supreme Court takes this case and reverses, the precedent will spark a great many similar suits to expunge every trace of religion from public life. That isn’t what the Founders meant with the establishment clause.

George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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