The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in a case challenging the constitutionality of a World War I memorial in Bladensburg, Maryland. In American Legion v. American Humanist Association, the Supreme Court will weigh in on whether a state’s maintenance of a 93-year-old World War I memorial that includes a 40-foot cross—known as the Peace Cross—is an “establishment of religion” in violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.
Emilie Kao, director of Heritage’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, attended the oral argument. Defending the constitutionality of the Peace Cross, Kao said: “The Founders recognized that we are not a country of irreligious people. Nor are we a people who follow one religion. We are a people who follow many religions. And while the Establishment Clause prevents the government from elevating one religion above all others through coercion or exclusion, that’s not what the Peace Cross in Bladensburg does.”
Heritage legal fellow Elizabeth Slattery also attended the oral argument. According to Slattery, “It’s important to keep in mind that the Constitution does not mandate a ‘wall of separation between church and state,’ as Thomas Jefferson once wrote in a private letter. Using the symbol of the cross to honor those who gave their lives defending our nation and our freedom is consistent with the Constitution, and the Supreme Court should uphold this longstanding tradition.” You can read her key takeaways from the oral argument here and listen to her breakdown of the argument on the latest episode of Heritage’s SCOTUS101 podcast.
On Thursday, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., spoke at Heritage about how this case is an opportunity for the Supreme Court to clarify Establishment Clause jurisprudence. You can watch that event here.
Do you think that religious liberty is prevailing over liberal attacks, or are secular liberals winning their war on religion?