Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin today joined a bipartisan group of 28 states in fighting to protect a historic cross honoring World War I veterans as part of a case with much broader implications for the First Amendment.
The case at hand involves a nearly century-old memorial cross in Bladensburg, Maryland, started by community members and mothers whose sons died in World War I, and finished by the American Legion. The initial lawsuit seeks to force the state of Maryland to tear down the historic cross.
The 28-state coalition urges the U.S. Supreme Court to consider and ultimately protect veterans' memorials that include religious symbolism. The coalition's friend of the court brief seeks to overturn a lower court's ruling that one such memorial violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
"Monuments that stand in honor of the men and women who lost their lives in war transcend religion and the call to remove them is an affront to all veterans," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "The inclusion of religious elements on war monuments do not offend the Constitution, but rather is rooted in the historical faiths of those who served, and did so bravely." said Attorney General Kilmartin.
Rhode Island had a similar controversy several years back when a group sought the removal of the World War I and World War II monument located on municipal property located at Place Jolicoeur in Woonsocket. The Supreme Court's ultimate decision could impact memorials across the nation, including those at Arlington National Cemetery.
Attorney General Kilmartin joined attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia, as well as the governor of Kentucky.