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

Supreme Court seems to seek narrow way to uphold cross that memorializes war dead

Feb 27, 2019

By Robert Barnes

A majority of the Supreme Court on Wednesday seemed to be searching for a way — a narrow way, most likely — to allow a historic cross commemorating World War I dead to remain where it has stood for nearly 100 years.

Two of the court’s four liberals suggested the unique history of the Peace Cross in the Washington suburb of Bladensburg, Md., may provide a way to accommodate its position on public land in a highway median.

But more than an hour of oral arguments showed the difficulty the court faces when it must decide whether government’s involvement with a religious symbol has an allowable sectarian purpose or is an unconstitutional embrace of religion.

The Bladensburg Peace Cross, made of granite and cement, was built in 1925 and paid for by local families, businesses and the American Legion. But the 40-foot cross sits on land owned since 1961 by a state commission that pays for its maintenance and upkeep.

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