WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — A 40-foot cross honoring the soldiers who fought in World War I will remain on public property.
In a 7-2 decision on Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Bladensburg Peace Cross in Maryland does not violate the Constitution.
“It’s a landmark decision for religious freedom,” said Kelly Shackelford, president, CEO and chief counsel for the First Liberty Institute.
Shackelford represented the American Legion in the case. He said a ruling against the cross would’ve had widespread implications.
“They would have to go into every community of every state of this country and you would see bulldozing and sandblasting of religious symbols,” Shackelford said.
“This approach of government hostility to religious symbols is not what our country is about,” he added.
The American Humanist argued the cross violated the constitution and wanted to see it moved to private land. Spokesperson Sarah Henry said it’s frustrating to see government funds used to maintain a memorial that she says doesn’t represent everyone.
“Frankly, we’re disappointed,” she said. “The military is made up of active service members and veterans from all faiths and non, and the Christian cross just can’t honor them all.”
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the ruling, agreeing that a cross is a Christian reference and can’t be considered a secular symbol.