TOPEKA – (June 20, 2019) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt issued the following statement on today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in American Legion v. American Humanist Association upholding the constitutionality of a large Latin cross that stands on public property in Bladensburg, Maryland, as a memorial to military personnel killed in action during World War I:
“Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision elevates common sense and respect for our nation’s religious diversity and traditions above strident anti-religious ideology. It recognizes that for many Americans the acceptance of religious symbolism is part of our shared heritage and not an offense to be scrubbed from the public square. As the Court eloquently stated:
‘The cross is undoubtedly a Christian symbol, but that fact should not blind us to everything else that the Bladensburg Cross has come to represent. For some, that monument is a symbolic resting place for ancestors who never returned home. For others, it is a place for the community to gather and honor all veterans and their sacrifices for our Nation. For others still, it is a historical landmark. For many of these people, destroying or defacing the Cross that has stood undisturbed for nearly a century would not be neutral and would not further the ideals of respect and tolerance embodied in the First Amendment. For all these reasons, the Cross does not offend the Constitution.’”
Schmidt and 28 other state attorneys general and the governor of Kentucky filed an amicus brief in the case seeking to protect historical veterans memorials that include religious symbols. Their brief cited several examples of memorials around the country that bear religious imagery and therefore could have been affected by an adverse ruling in this case. One of those cited memorials is in Highland Cemetery in Doniphan County.