Maryland governor directs AG to appeal Bladensburg cross decision

Published: Oct. 24, 2017 at 5:21 PM EDT
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Following a decision by a federal appeals court that a towering cross on a Maryland state highway median just outside Washington violated the U.S. Constitution, Maryland's Governor Larry Hogan is asking the state attorney general to appeal the decision.

The US 4th Circuit Court of Appeals

that the 40-foot memorial cross, which stands on public land, amounts to government sponsorship of religion and must be removed.

The Peace Cross was built by the American Legion in 1925 to honor 49 soldiers from Prince George’s County who died in World War I. It stands on land maintained by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

The American Humanist Association said the cross endorses Christianity while ignoring non-Christian veterans.

“Government war memorials should respect all veterans, not just those from one religious group,” said Roy Speckhardt, AHA executive director, in a statement. “Religious neutrality is important in a pluralistic society like ours.”

But in response, Gov. Harry Logan said on Facebook, "The idea that memorializing our soldiers killed in battle on foreign lands to make the world safe for democracy is somehow unconstitutional goes against everything we stand for as Americans. Our administration will fight this unacceptable overreach. Enough is enough."

This week,

, he sent a letter to Attorney General Brian Frosh directing him to file an amicus brief in support of an appeal to keep the Peace Cross memorial in Bladensburg.

The cross stayed after a federal district court rejected arguments in 2015 that it served primarily as a religious symbol, but the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that opinion.

The case has been remanded to the district court where “the parties are free to explore alternative arrangements that would not offend the Constitution.”

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