TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower-court decision that held a historic cross -shaped memorial honoring World War I veterans violates the First Amendment.
Schmidt, along with 28 other state attorneys general and the governor of Kentucky, filed an amicus brief Monday seeking to protect traditional veterans memorials that include religious symbolism.
“From our nation’s earliest days, one of the ways we have honored this charge is through monuments and memorials – public and private – designed to keep our service members’ sacrifices at the forefront of the public mind,” the states wrote in their brief.
The case involves a 93-year-old Maryland memorial to American service members who died in World War I. The lawsuit plaintiffs seek to force the state of Maryland to tear down the historic cross, which was built on private land that later was acquired for public domain. The Supreme Court’s ultimate decision interpreting the Constitution’s Establishment Clause could impact veterans memorials across the nation, including those in Kansas. The states’ brief references a memorial at Highland Cemetery in Doniphan County as one that could be affected.
“I’m hopeful the Supreme Court will use this opportunity to clarify that the Constitution allows historical veterans memorials that contain religious symbolism to continue to exist on public property,” Schmidt said.
The case is Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission et. al. v. American Humanist Association, et al. A copy of the brief is available at http://bit.ly/2TdVXjv.