In a dishonest and disastrous ruling, the Supreme Court finds that a 40-foot Christian cross on public land in Maryland does not violate the separation between church and state.
The Supreme Court said on Thursday that a 40-foot cross on public land in Maryland that was built to honor fallen soldiers in World War I does not violate the separation between church and state and can remain standing.
USA Today reports:
The Supreme Court got religion Thursday, ruling that a gigantic Latin cross on government land in Maryland does not have to be moved or altered in the name of church-state separation.
The justices reasoned that the 40-foot cross was erected nearly a century ago as a World War I memorial, not an endorsement of Christianity.
The 7-2 decision finds that 40-foot Christian cross known as the Peace Cross and erected after World War I is only a war memorial honoring local soldiers and not an unconstitutional promotion of religion.
In other words, the majority opinion makes the dishonest and absurd argument that even though the cross is obviously a Christian cross, it does not really promote Christianity.
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing the majority opinion, declared:
The cross is undoubtedly a Christian symbol. But that fact should not blind us to everything else that the Bladensburg Cross has come to represent. For some, that monument is a symbolic resting place for ancestors who never returned home. For others, it is a place for the community to gather and honor all veterans and their sacrifices for the nation.
Commenting on Alito’s opinion for the majority, NPR notes:
In other words, Alito, speaking for the majority on the court, admits that “the cross is undoubtedly a Christian symbol,” yet at the same time tries to claim that this Christian cross is not really a promotion of Christianity, but is instead some sort of secular symbol.
Alito argued that the cross had essentially become secular. He invoked the history of World War I memorials noting the rows and rows of crosses and stars of David at cemeteries that memorialized those who died in that war and that established in people’s minds, in his view, that that was a way to honor to dead.
Such reasoning is simply dishonest, and insults everyone’s intelligence.
Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were the two dissenting votes in the 7-2 ruling. In her dissent Ginsburg wrote:
By maintaining the Peace Cross on a public highway, the Commission elevates Christianity over other faiths, and religion over nonreligion.
As I see it, when a cross is displayed on public property, the government may be presumed to endorse its religious content. The venue is surely associated with the State; the symbol and its meaning are just as surely associated exclusively with Christianity.
The principal symbol of Christianity around the world should not loom over public thoroughfares, suggesting official recognition of that religion’s paramountcy.
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. Soldiers of all faiths ‘are united by their love of country, but they are not united by the cross.’
Ginsberg is spot on in her dissent. The government should not elevate “Christianity over other faiths, and religion over nonreligion.” And it should not be controversial to claim that “when a cross is displayed on public property, the government may be presumed to endorse its religious content.”
By denying and obfuscating these simple facts, the majority decision insults the intelligence, and the U.S. Constitution.
Bottom line: In a dishonest and disastrous ruling, the Supreme Court finds that a 40-foot Christian cross on public land in Maryland does not violate the separation between church and state.