By Ariane de Vogue and Veronica Stracqualursi | 20 June 2019
CNN — The Supreme Court said on Thursday that a 40-foot cross on public land in Maryland that was built to honor fallen soldiers in World War I does not violate the separation between church and state and can remain standing.
Although the justices differed on their rationales for upholding the cross, Justice Samuel Alito, writing the opinion of the Court in part, based his conclusions on the fact that the cross “carries special significance in commemorating World War 1.”
“The cross is undoubtedly a Christian symbol, but that fact should not blind us to everything else that the Bladensburg Cross has come to represent,” Alito said.
Alito stressed that the monument is a “place for the community to gather and honor all veterans and their sacrifices for our nation.”
He said that “destroying or defacing the Cross that has stood undisturbed for nearly a century would not be neutral and would not further the ideals of respect and tolerance embodied in the First Amendment.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented from the 7-2 ruling in the case. Her voice was clear, with barely a trace of the hoarseness she had on Monday, as she read her dissent from bench, wearing her famed dissent collar. She has said in public appearances she chooses to read dissents from the bench only when she believes that a majority’s opinion is particularly egregious.
“Just as a Star of David is not suitable to honor Christians who died serving their country, so a cross is not suitable to honor those of other faiths who died defending their nation,” Ginsburg wrote in her dissent, joined by a fellow liberal, Justice Sonia Sotomayor. “Soldiers of all faiths ‘are united by their love of country, but they are not united by the cross.'”
Ginsburg also took the unusual step of including pictures in her opinion depicting the large size of the Bladensburg cross and how it dominates a highway intersection on public ground. She also included a picture of a head stone in the Henri-Chappelle American Cemetery and memorial in Belgium depicting a sea of crosses but also a headstone with the Star of David. […]