(JTA) — The Supreme Court will allow a 40-foot memorial cross to remain standing on public land in Maryland.
“By maintaining the Peace Cross on a public highway, the Commission elevates Christianity over other faiths and religion over nonreligion,” the Jewish jurist said.
Seven of the court’s nine justices voted to allow the Bladensburg Cross, a memorial to soldiers killed in World War I, to stand. Ginsburg was joined in her dissent by Sonia Sotomayor.
Justice Samuel Alito Jr., who wrote the main opinion, said the cross had taken on meanings outside of just the Christian faith.
“For some, that monument is a symbolic resting place for ancestors who never returned home,” he wrote. “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.”
The ruling drew criticism from the Anti-Defamation League.
“This decision unfortunately undermines well-established precedents safeguarding the separation of church and state,” the group’s national director, Jonathan Greenblatt, said in a statement.
The Interfaith Alliance, led by president Rabbi Jack Moline, also condemned the decision.
“The Bladensburg Cross is neither truly representative of the diverse personal faith, philosophy or conscience of the local servicemembers for whom it was built to honor, nor do we see this ruling as honoring the powerful meaning of the Latin cross for devoted Christians,” Moline said in a statement.
Josefin Dolsten is a former news fellow at the Forward, writing about politics and culture, and editing the Sisterhood blog. She received an MA in Jewish Studies and Comparative Religion from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a BA in Government from Cornell University. Follow her on Twitter at @josefindolsten.
RBG Dissents In Ruling On 40-Foot Cross On Public Land