Appeal to high court: 'Religious' isn't forbidden

Monday, March 5, 2018
 | 
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com)

Bladensburg Peace Cross 2A legal organization dedicated to defending religious liberty is hoping the U.S. Supreme Court will take up its case involving a veterans memorial.

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit denied an en banc rehearing in the Bladensburg World War I Veterans Memorial case. The American Humanist Association (AHA) says the Christian cross on government property in Bladensburg violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, and a three-judge Fourth Circuit panel agreed last October -- a decision that led to First Liberty Institute and Jones Day asking for the en banc rehearing.

An en banc session is when all the judges of a court hear a case -- not just a few, as was the case last October.

"It's grossly unfortunate that the Fourth Circuit would not take time to review this nearly 100-year-old memorial," laments First Liberty attorney Jeremy Dys. "This was erected in the 1920s by Gold Star [Mothers] and returning soldiers that formed the American Legion coming back from World War I. It's been standing there now for almost 100 years, and we're expected now to believe that just now it's become a problem of a constitutional magnitude? That's just ridiculous."

Dys adds that First Liberty cannot in good conscience allow this ruling to stand.

Dys

"So on behalf of our clients at the American Legion, we will be appealing this to the Supreme Court of the United States. Nothing is guaranteed on that," Dys recognizes, "but given the fact they've reviewed these types of cases in the past, they've approved of monuments that are much more expansive than even this, I think there is a good likelihood that the Supreme Court is going to want to review this case, lest every veterans memorial in the country be suspect."

Arlington National Cemetery, located near Bladensburg, Maryland, is home to many cross-shaped monuments, and the Supreme Court itself has religious imagery on its building.

"What the Fourth Circuit has done here is a great damage to the First Amendment," says Dys, "and to declare that anything that happens to touch upon the religious in public is forbidden by the Constitution, nothing could be further from the truth."

He concludes that the First Amendment protects the right of all of its citizens to choose "according to the dictates of their own conscience" how they honor those who have fallen in war.

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