Pleading the cross
The American Humanist Association (AHA) is not so coy as to invoke an organizational mascot like the Satanists. Claiming they are “good enough without god” the group has won the latest round in its challenge to remove the World War I memorial Bladensburg Peace Cross in Maryland.
In an 8-6 decision, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on March 1 denied an en banc appeal and upheld the court’s three-judge panel ruling that the 40-foot memorial stands in violation of the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution.
First Liberty Institute, which represents the American Legion and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, said it would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
Writing for the majority, Judge James Wynn said that in order to allow the cross to remain, the court would have to deny the symbol’s historic context “of advancing the Christian faith.”
But three dissenting opinions argue the majority ignores the context in which the cross was erected, and U.S. Supreme Court precedent allows sacred symbols in an otherwise secular context. The cross, Judge Paul Niemeyer wrote, became a common grave marker in Europe during World War I, and similar markers, including many in Arlington National Cemetery, exist within a 40-mile radius of the disputed monument.
A win by the atheists could threaten the existence of war memorials across the nation, the dissenting judges said. —B.P.
Bakers push forward appeal
As Christian business owners working in the wedding service industry await a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, former bakery owners in Oregon are moving ahead with their own legal fight. Melissa and Aaron Klein, former bakery owners who faced fines for declining a cake order for a same-sex wedding, appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court on March 1.
Attorneys with First Liberty Institute filed the Kleins’ appeal despite the pending decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission expected by mid-June. The ruling could affect the outcome of the Kleins’ case and those of other Christian business owners whose convictions conflict with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision that legalized same-sex marriage. —B.P.
Some lessons are “better caught than taught.” Students at Edina High School in Edina, Min., learned a civics lesson from filing a lawsuit against the school district last semester and hammering out a settlement March 1. The Edina Public School Board approved the settlement between the EHS Young Conservatives Club and district administrators. It included minor addendums to district policy as it relates to students’ speech rights. The students sued the school district in December, claiming administrators threatened to disband the unofficial club after members criticized student protests during a Veterans Day ceremony on campus. The district denied that accusation and others from the lawsuit in a statement released after reaching the settlement. —B.P.