ATLANTA, GA – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the presence of a World War I memorial cross on public land in Maryland does not violate the Establishment Clause, and that in fact, destroying the nearly century-old memorial “would not be neutral and would not further the ideals of respect and tolerance embodied in the First Amendment.” This ruling impacts monuments all across the nation – including a 12-foot cross dedicated to a messenger who fell while delivering a message between Union generals found along the trail of the Chickamauga Battlefield in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, and a stone cross honoring Georgia’s own World War I veterans that sits on a median between two streets in Augusta, Georgia.
“We strongly believe that memorials like this one do not violate the Constitution and should be protected and preserved,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “Today’s ruling is a great win and provides helpful guidance as we continue working to protect these kinds of memorials all across the nation, including ones in Georgia.”
Last year, Attorney General Chris Carr joined a bipartisan group of 30 states in fighting to protect a 93-year-old memorial honoring World War I veterans as part of a case with much broader implications for the First Amendment. The plaintiffs in the case had asked a federal court to order that the memorial be destroyed or revised because it bears the shape of a cross. The coalition urged the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the lower court’s ruling that the memorial violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution and provide greater clarity about how the Establishment Clause applies in challenges to such monuments.