The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that a cross — which stands 40 feet tall — on Maryland state public land is not in violation of the First Amendment, and will be allowed to remain standing.
The American Legion built the cross — typically known as "The Bladensburg Peace Cross" — in 1925 to honor soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in World War I. A plaque on the front of the monument reads, "This Memorial Cross Dedicated to the Heroes of Prince George's County who gave their lives in the great war for the liberty of the world."
What are the details?
The 7-2 ruling came after months of deliberation.
"For nearly a century, the Bladensburg Cross has expressed the community's grief at the loss of the young men who perished, its thanks for their sacrifice, and its dedication to the ideals for which they fought," Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the court's opinion.
"It has become a prominent community landmark, and its removal or radical alteration at this date would be seen by many not as a neutral act but as the manifestation of 'a hostility toward religion that has no place in our Establishment Clause traditions,'" he added.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented from the 7-2 ruling and proceeded to read the dissent from the bench.
"Just as a Star of David is not suitable to honor Christians who died serving their country, so a cross is not suitable to honor those of other faiths who died defending their nation," she explained. "Soldiers of all faiths 'are united by their love of country, but they are not united by the cross.'"
Arguments over the cross commenced in February after local residents sued in 2012, insisting that the cross was a blatant government endorsement of religion.
The plaintiffs also complained that the cross is maintained with taxpayer funds.
Fox News reported that the court's decision reverses the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which initially ruled that the cross was unconstitutional.
According to a report by the Washington Post, all of the soldiers memorialized by the Peace Cross were Christian.
In 2015, a federal judge refused to order the removal of the cross. The judge insisted that the memorial was secular, and a monument of historical significance.