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Attorneys for The American Legion Turn to Supreme Court as the Last Hope for Preserving 90-Year-Old Veterans Memorial

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June 25, 2018

Petition asks Court to reverse Fourth Circuit’s decision that would tear down the Bladensburg World War I Veterans Memorial

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, attorneys for First Liberty Institute and Jones Day filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court of the United States on behalf of The American Legion, asking the nine Justices to reverse a lower court decision that could lead to the bulldozing of the Bladensburg WWI Veterans Memorial in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

A copy of the petition can be found here.

“The Supreme Court is the last hope for preserving the Bladensburg WWI Veterans Memorial,” said Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO of First Liberty. “For nearly 100 years the community and families of the 49 fallen sons of Prince George’s County listed on the memorial’s plaque have considered the Bladensburg WWI Veterans Memorial their sons’ gravestone. We cannot allow their memory to be bulldozed.”

The Bladensburg World War I Veterans Memorial is a cross-shaped memorial erected in 1925 by local Gold-Star mothers and a local post of The American Legion to honor 49 Prince George’s County men who gave their lives while serving in WWI. The memorial was built in a cross shape to recall the cross-shaped grave markers standing over the countless American graves on the Western Front of that war.

Michael Carvin, lead counsel for The American Legion, partner at Jones Day and First Liberty network attorney, said, “We hope the Supreme Court will reverse the Fourth Circuit’s decision. Americans should honor the way these Gold-Star mothers and The American Legion chose to remember their sons and comrades, and honor the service and sacrifice of these 49 fallen servicemen of Prince George’s County.”

In 2015, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland ruled the memorial was constitutional, citing the use of crosses to mark the graves of fallen American servicemen overseas. Later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed the District Court’s decision, declaring the cross shape of the memorial violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

To learn more, visit FirstLiberty.org/Bladensburg.

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About First Liberty Institute

First Liberty Institute is a non-profit public interest law firm and the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

To arrange an interview, contact Lacey McNiel at media@firstliberty.org or by calling 972-941-4453.

To download this press release, please click here.

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To The American Legion:

As a grateful citizen, I support your effort to honor those who have fallen in battle and to keep the Bladensburg WWI Veterans Memorial standing as a visible reminder of valor, sacrifice, endurance, and devotion.

Veterans memorials like the one in Bladensburg, MD are symbols reminding us of the sacrifice of our service members and the cost of war. Tearing down the Bladensburg Memorial would erase the memory of the 49 fallen heroes of Prince George’s County—like they never even existed.

We cannot allow the Bladensburg Memorial to be bulldozed.

Please know that you have my support and backing in your petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.