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Judicial Watch, Inc., a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

Judicial Watch, Inc., a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

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Judicial Watch Files Supreme Court Amicus Brief Supporting World War I Veterans Memorial Cross

The ‘Peace Cross,’ a 93-year-old World War I memorial, may be torn down unless Supreme Court Acts

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed an amicus curiae brief in the United States Supreme Court asking the court to reverse a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which ruled that government recognition and upkeep of a World War I memorial cross is in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution. (The American Legion, et al. v. American Humanist Association, et al.; Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission v. American Humanist Association, et al. (Nos. 17-1717, 18-18)). The court will hear arguments on the case next week, on February 27, 2019.

The First Amendment provides: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” These two clauses comprise the “establishment clause” and the “free exercise clause.”

Judicial Watch argues that the Supreme Court in this case can “clarify the role of the Establishment Clause in relation to the States and set out an unambiguous legal standard by which Establishment Clause violations can be measured.” Additionally, Judicial Watch “seeks to highlight the dangerous path this case plays in overt hostility toward religion by the courts.”

Judicial Watch argues that, “applying any of the possible Establishment Clause tests brings about the same conclusion: the Memorial is constitutional.”

Judicial Watch points out that both the plain meaning of the language and the historical context of the Establishment Clause clearly demonstrate “that the Framers intended the Clause to be a restriction on federal interference with and establishment of religion…”

The brief details the use of the cross through American history to honor our nation’s war dead and notes that “the cross has become synonymous with veteran sacrifice.” Judicial Watch’s brief presents the Supreme Court with actual photos of such memorial crosses across the country.

“The time-honored cross monuments to America’s honored dead should especially be defended by courts, both because military sacrifice made possible the guarantee of our constitutional rights and because it is the duty of the courts to honor the Constitution as written by the Framers,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This is an opportunity for the court to halt the defense of imagined offenses of manufactured rights and protect the free expression of religion against the predations of activist judges who seek to remove religion from the public square.”

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Bladensburg Peace Cross courtesy of Prince George’s County Government

Peace Cross circa 1920s courtesy of Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission

Peace Cross plaque

Cross of Sacrifice at Arlington National Cemetery courtesy of Monumental Thoughts

The Argonne Cross Memorial

The Argonne Cross Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery courtesy of the American Legion

Cypress Hills National Cemetery

Cypress Hills National Cemetery

Courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration, History Program