WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A 40-foot-tall (12 meters) cross-shaped war memorial standing on public land in Maryland does not constitute government endorsement of religion, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday in a decision that leaves unanswered questions about the boundaries of the U.S. Constitution's separation of church and state.
The justices were divided on many of the legal issues but the vote was 7-2 to overturn a lower court ruling that had declared the so-called Peace Cross in Bladensburg unconstitutional in a legal challenge mounted by the American Humanist Association, a group that advocates for secular governance. The concrete cross was erected in 1925 as a memorial to troops killed in World War One.
The ruling made it clear that a long-standing monument in the shape of a Christian cross on public land was permissible but the justices were divided over whether other types of religious displays and symbols on government property would be allowed. Those issues are likely to come before the court in future cases.
Nov. 11 marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I, but the national monument in Washington, D.C., that Congress authorized in 2014 is still just an artist’s concept that still needs money to become a reality.
I didn’t realize there was a movement afoot to build a monument specifically to Operation Desert Storm, the 1991 100-hour offensive. But I just saw this article, and my initial reaction is that I viscerally dislike this idea. I have two thoughts about why:
Photographer Inbal Abergil remembers her confusion the first time a friend invited her to the beach for Memorial Day, shortly after she immigrated to the U.S. in 2009. “I said, ‘But we’ll be going to ceremonies right? To pay our respects?’”