Federal Appeals Court Rules Against Md. Cross Display

A federal appeals court has ruled that a towering cross on public land in Bladensburg, Md., is unconstitu­tional and should be removed.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the religious symbol, which its defenders insist is a memorial to World War I veterans, “aggrandizes the Latin cross,” which, the court majority noted, “is the core symbol of Christianity.”

Added the court, “And here it is, 40 feet tall; prom­inently displayed in the center of one of the busiest intersections in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and maintained with thousands of dollars in government funds.”

The appeals court’s Oct. 18 decision in American Hum­anist Association v. Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission reverses a 2015 district court ruling that stated the cross was not predominantly religious. The American Humanist Association, an ally of Americans Uni­ted, filed the lawsuit challenging the cross’s place on public property on behalf of several plaintiffs.

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Com­mission, which maintains the site, has asked the entire 4th Circuit Court to consider an appeal of the ruling. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who criticized the decision, says the state will back the appeal.