In Which the Court Gets One Right

The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the Bladensburg Peace Cross is not an unconstitutional favoring by government of a particular religion, reversing the 4th Circuit. Only Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

This is the privately done monument that was

built in 1925 and paid for by local families, businesses, and the American Legion to honor 49 World War I veterans from Prince George’s County [in Maryland]. But the 40-foot cross sits on a now-busy highway median owned since 1961 by a state commission that pays for its maintenance and upkeep.

The American Humanist Association, an anti-religion gadfly with many such attacks, particularly against what it considers Christian devices, had sued for the monument’s removal (these five decades and more after the commission assumed responsibility for the monument).  The appellate court had agreed with the AHA, ruling that the monument is an aggrandizement of Latin Crosses and nothing else.  That court also had displayed its contempt for the intelligence of ordinary Americans, ruling that the “display”

says to any reasonable observer that the commission either places Christianity above other faiths, views being American and Christian as one in the same, or both[.]

However, Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the Court, had the right of it [emphasis added].

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.  For some, that monument is a symbolic resting place for ancestors who never returned home. For others, it is a place for the community to gather and honor all veterans and their sacrifices for our Nation. For others still, it is a historical landmark. For many of these people, 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.

It doesn’t get much clearer than that.

As an aside, Ginsburg in her dissent, which she emphasized by reading it from the bench, echoed the 4th Circuit’s contempt for us ordinary Americans:

As I see it, when a cross is displayed on public property, the government may be presumed to endorse its religious content.  The venue is surely associated with the State; the symbol and its meaning are just as surely associated exclusively with Christianity.

Further to the aside, here is F Scott Fitzgerald’s test of genius:

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

The Court’s ruling, including Ginsburg’s dissent, can be read here.

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