The Bigger Battle: 3 Ways the Bladensburg Memorial Case Could Shape Religious Liberty for the Next 30 Years

February 26, 2019
The Bigger Battle | Bladensburg | First Liberty

The countdown is on. We’re just a few short months away from a decision in the Bladensburg WWI Veterans Memorial case, after presenting oral arguments at the Supreme Court in late February as the final step in our fight to preserve the memory of 49 of our nation’s fallen heroes.

And as we draw closer to the big decision, we want to show you why the outcome goes far beyond just preserving this one historic gravestone made of concrete and bronze.

In fact, constitutional experts, prominent national leaders and some of the top religious freedom attorneys across America – many of whom have voiced their support to keep the memorial standing – are calling this the biggest and most important case the High Court will hear this term.

That’s because this case could possibly affect religious liberty for the next 30 years.

In this feature, we’re giving you the three most important things you need to know about the Bladensburg case, and why the Supreme Court’s ruling could have a rippling effect on the first freedom of millions of Americans – including you.

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  1. Saving thousands of veterans memorials across America.

    First, by saving the Bladensburg Memorial, we are also saving thousands of similar veterans memorials across the country that have religious imagery.

    At the very forefront, this is about keeping bulldozers away from the monuments that pay tribute and homage to our service-members and their sacrifice – including the free-standing cross-shaped memorials in Arlington National Cemetery.

    And a majority of Americans agree that memorials to our nation’s fallen heroes must remain standing, because reducing memorials to piles of ashes would be like desecrating their legacy of sacrifice.

  2. Replacing a legal test that has set bad judicial precedent for nearly 50 years.

    Second, we have an opportunity to get rid of a really bad Lemon.

    For close to 50 years, courts have relied on an unconstitutional and outdated precedent known as the “Lemon test” to decide if the government has violated the First Amendment by establishing a religion, especially when it comes to public displays that have religious imagery.

    Legally speaking, that test has left a bitter aftertaste.

    In effect, this test has put many of our nation’s war memorials in the cross-hairs and under impending threat of desecration or destruction. What’s more, it is what has prompted thousands of lawsuits simply because a monument or display personally offends someone.

    Or to put it simply, it gives way to subjective “feelings” rather than sound constitutional logic.

    But with the Bladensburg case, we’re arguing that we must oust the Lemon test for good – and instead use a standard that is in keeping with what the Framers of the Constitution intended.

  3. Setting a new standard that’s more in keeping with the U.S. Constitution.

    Looking forward, the Supreme Court’s ruling on Bladensburg could be a turning point for religious liberty, affecting how you and millions of Americans live out your faith now and in the future.

    Above all, with this case, the High Court can offer some much-needed clarity to the meaning of the First Amendment, which has been muddled because of prior bad legal doctrine.

    That’s why we presented the Justices with the argument that they should return to the historical understanding of what the Constitution – and the First Amendment in particular – meant to the Founding Fathers.

    To put it simply, we’re asking the Supreme Court to use another test: One that would set a standard that protects your religious freedom.

    And that would be the greatest result: the adoption of a standard that will safeguard your religious liberty today and for decades to come.

In the video below, First Liberty’s Senior Counsel, Chelsey Youman gives you a quick and straightforward breakdown of exactly what’s at stake – and why the Bladensburg WWI Veterans Memorial case is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to both save and make history.

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