Court orders removal of 40-foot cross from D.C. suburb

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An appellate court has ordered the removal of a 40-foot cross in a suburb of Washington, D.C. that was erected nearly 100 years ago as a tribute to local soldiers killed in World War 1.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit brought by the American Humanist Association. AHA argues that because the cross is on public land and is maintained with public dollars, it’s a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause which bars the government from favoring a particular religion.

“If it’s replaced with a secular monument that truly represents all of the fallen, that would be my preferred solution,” said AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt. “It’s a public religious display and it’s it’s not right for government to make such a religious display.” 

The American Legion has asked the Supreme Court to take the case and a bipartisan group of more than 100 members of Congress has signed an amicus brief urging the court to prevent the cross from being removed.

“If [the cross] offends somebody, they need to look the other way,” said Sen. John Kennedy, R-LA, one of the lawmakers who signed the brief. “It’s not a religious symbol. It’s a war memorial.”

Lawyers involved in the case expect the Supreme Court to decide whether to take the case sometime this fall.

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