CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is celebrating a June 20 U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to protect a historic cross honoring World War I veterans in a landmark case.
Morrisey says the decision could impact historic memorials across the nation, including those at the West Virginia State Capitol and Arlington National Cemetery.
Morrisey led a 29-state coalition in filing a friend of the court brief to protect veterans memorials that include religious symbolism – an acknowledgment the case at hand involves more than the one cross, but instead much broader implications for the First Amendment.
“This case has the makings of a landmark decision in the fight for religious liberty and freedom,” Morrisey said in a statement. “In protecting such memorials, we honor the sacrifice of our brave servicemen and women and defend the very freedom they fought to uphold.”
The Supreme Court decision stemmed from a lawsuit that sought to force the state of Maryland to tear down a nearly century-old historic memorial cross in Bladensburg. Its construction was started by community members and mothers, whose sons died in World War I, and finished by the American Legion.
“The 13,000 combat veterans of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of West Virginia fully supports the West Virginia Attorney General’s urge to protect the memorial cross honoring World War I veterans in Bladensburg, Maryland,” said Kevin Light, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in West Virginia. “This memorial is a vital, historical depiction to educate the public on the many sacrifices the brave men and women who sacrificed their life to protect the freedom and rights the American public have today for the past 100 years.”
The coalition’s brief, filed in late December, urged the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court’s ruling that said the Bladensburg memorial violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution
West Virginia led the brief with support from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
U.S. Supreme Court case numbers 17-1717 and 18-0018