"World War I Memorial, Bladensburg, Maryland" by Ben Jacobson / CC BY-SA 3.0

In Bladensburg Peace Cross case, Supreme Court’s Elena Kagan could have pivotal role

Feb 26, 2019

By Robert Barnes

Justice Elena Kagan has emerged as one of the Supreme Court’s most powerful voices on the separation of church and state, often rebuking conservative colleagues for allowing government actions that she says favor one religion over another.

But the last time the justices considered the fate of a cross constructed on public land, Kagan was on the other side of the bench and on one side of the issue.

As President Barack Obama’s solicitor general, Kagan successfully defended a cross in the Mojave National Preserve, convincing the court’s conservatives that what she unwaveringly referred to as a “war memorial” should remain as a tribute to the sacrifice of World War I dead.

There is a reboot of the issue Wednesday, this time with Kagan as a justice: another cross dedicated to Americans killed during World War I, a massive structure on public land in Maryland, about five miles northeast of the Supreme Court.

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