For Immediate Release
(Washington, D.C., July 27, 2018)—The American Humanist Association (AHA) filed its brief in the United States Supreme Court opposing the American Legion’s Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the Bladensburg Cross case.
Following oral argument presented by the AHA’s Senior Counsel, Monica Miller, in December 2016, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the AHA’s favor that the government’s 40-foot-tall Christian cross memorial towering over a heavily-trafficked highway intersection in Bladensburg, MD, violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The Fourth Circuit ruled that the government’s dominating Christian cross sends a strong message that the government “either places Christianity above other faiths, views being American and Christian as one in the same, or both.”
The government (Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission) and the American Legion (as intervenor) petitioned the Fourth Circuit for rehearing en banc, which the AHA successfully defeated on March 1, 2018. Judge Wynn wrote a separate opinion underscoring the soundness of the court’s October 18, 2017 ruling.
On June 25, 2018, the American Legion petitioned the United States Supreme Court to issue a writ of certiorari, asking the Court to take the case and overturn the Fourth Circuit’s ruling. The government filed a separate petition for certiorari on June 29, 2018. The AHA had thirty days to respond to each.
“When the government uses the preeminent symbol of Christianity as a universal war memorial, it sends a callous message to non-Christian soldiers that Christians are worthy of veneration while they may as well be forgotten,” said Monica Miller, Senior Counsel for AHA and lead counsel on the case. “Not surprisingly, every Court of Appeals to address the constitutionality of a government memorial cross declared the cross unconstitutional, and the American Legion’s petition is devoid of any evidence that a Christian cross commemorates non-Christians.”
“A war memorial should respect the sacrifices made by all veterans, not just those of a specific faith,” said Roy Speckhardt, Executive Director of the AHA.
The AHA’s brief explains that the case is not ripe for Supreme Court review and highlights the uniformity of Circuit Court precedent holding government cross displays unconstitutional.
The AHA will also be filing their separate Brief in Opposition to the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission’s Petition for Writ of Certiorari next week.
Read the AHA’s Supreme Court Brief in Opposition to the Legion’s Petition here.
The AHA’s Opposition to En Banc Review can be viewed here.