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Supreme Court to Decide on 40-foot Cross: Is it a War Memorial or an Official Display of Religion?

November 2, 2018
Supreme Court to decide on 40-foot cross: Is it a war memorial or an official display of religion?
In a dispute involving assertions of government endorsement of religion, defenders of the Peace Cross, which stands in Bladensburg, Md., had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Washington Post)

By: David G. Savage

The Supreme Court announced Friday it will hear its first religion case with new Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and decide whether a 40-foot cross that sits at a busy public intersection is a memorial to the war dead or an official endorsement of religion.

For decades, the justices have been closely split over the constitutionality of religious symbols on public property.

In 2005, for example, they decided two cases involving the Ten Commandments and struck down one and upheld the other. First they said county officials in Kentucky may not put copies of the Ten Commandments on the walls of their courthouses because that would be seen as endorsing religion.

But in another case, they said Texas need not remove a long-standing monument on its Capitol grounds which included the commandments.

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