Last week, the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center went before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to argue that a monument honoring veterans with a giant Christian symbol shouldn’t be allowed on federal property. You can read all the details about the 40-foot-tall World War I “Peace Cross” memorial in Bladensburg, Maryland right here.
The audio of last week’s oral arguments are now available online and I would strongly urge you to listen to it. I had a chance to do that over the weekend and it was really incredible. Not just because the AHA’s attorney Monica Miller does an excellent job of answering the court’s questions, but because her opponent Christopher DiPompeo has to twist the facts in all sorts of ridiculous ways to explain how this giant cross isn’t a Christian symbol.
One of the justices, James A. Wynn Jr., even seem to be laughing at his arguments, asking him point-blank how any reasonable person would ever look at the cross and think: That represents World War I and totally has nothing to do with Christianity!
Two of the three judges, Wynn and Judge Stephanie D. Thacker, appeared to lean in the AHA’s favor, suggesting that this was indeed an impermissible Christian symbol on government property… but it’s never wise to jump to conclusions here. There’s no ruling yet. And even if the AHA won this case 2-1, the other side would still have the option of asking the entire Fourth Circuit to rehear the case or appealing to the Supreme Court. It’s far from over.
For now, though, just based on the oral arguments, the side of reason that says this “memorial” is really an illegal promotion of Christianity seems to have the upper hand.