Americans United in late January filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of several religious and civil rights groups, arguing that state officials in Maryland have no right to own and display a 40-foot cross on public property.
Americans United and its allies assert in the brief that the Latin cross in Bladensburg, which has been described as an official memorial to all veterans and fallen soldiers, excludes non-Christians.
Fourteen religious and civil-rights organizations joined Americans United on the brief. The groups urged the Supreme Court to affirm that this religious symbol on public property, maintained with taxpayer dollars, is unconstitutional.
"Our service members made the ultimate sacrifice to our nation. Our government must treat them equally and honor them equally," said Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United. "The cross is an inherently Christian symbol. And this cross towering over a community allegedly to commemorate all veterans excludes and dishonors the sacrifices made by thousands of non-Christian veterans. We must remain true to the fundamental principles of our country that these men and women fought and died for our Constitution. We cannot allow our government to favor one religion over another, especially when it comes to honoring our veterans."
Americans United led the organizations in filing the brief in the case, American Legion v. American Humanist Association, which challenges the constitutionality of the large cross located on public land on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. (See "Church-State Separation At The Crossroads," January 2019 Church & State.)
The nearly century-old cross was originally created as a World War I memorial, and was rededicated as a memorial for all veterans in 1985. It is owned and maintained by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning...