On June 20, by a 7-2 majority, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that held that a century-old World War I memorial located in Prince George’s County, Maryland violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
The memorial, a 40-foot-tall structure bearing the names of 49 fallen local veterans of the Great War, had drawn the ire of the American Humanist Association, an organization that bills itself as “advocating progressive values and equality for humanists, atheists, and freethinkers.” The problem? The memorial resembled a Latin cross — a symbol shared by Christianity.
The lower court, relying on an unwieldy legal test first established in Lemon v. Kurtzman in 1971, found that the cross had a “principal or primary effect that advances, inhibits, or endorses religion” and fostered “an excessive entanglement between government and religion.”
The Supreme Court saw it differently.
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