Maryland asks Supreme Court to protect cross on public land

By Erin Cox

Maryland’s attorney general has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to preserve a controversial cross-shaped memorial on public land, weighing in for the first time about the future of the Peace Cross that honors men killed in World War I.

Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) this week filed an amicus brief in the case, which challenges the constitutionality of a 40-foot-tall cross in Prince George’s County that stands on public land and is maintained by taxpayer money.

Frosh wrote that when the state assumed ownership of the nearly century-old private monument from the American Legion in 1961, it did so only to maintain public safety. The cross sits in a median at a busy intersection in Bladensburg.

“States should have flexibility to take commonsense steps to ensure that aging monuments do not become a public safety risk without dooming the monuments themselves,” Frosh wrote. “The monument is used only by private parties, and only for secular purposes, and any message the monument conveys is, and always has been, their message” and not the government’s.

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