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November 29, 2020
Prof. Sue Burum
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Peace Cross Case Brief
Residents vs Peace Cross (2019)
Issue: Should the peace cross stand in traffic median in suburbs outside Washington D.C.?
Holding: The court declared that the peace cross should be allowed to stand. 7 in 9 judges agree.
Reasoning: Justice Samuel Alito reasoned with the holding explaining that even though the Cross came
into widespread use as a symbol for Christianity it has taken a secular meaning in other contexts like it
was a central symbol of World War 1 which explains the choice to use the cross as the memorial for
Prince Gorge’s Country soldiers. Justice Alito compares Norte Dame not only as fundamentally a place of
worship but also as inextricably linked with the idea of Paris and France. Likewise, taking down the
Peace Corps rather than restoring neutrality is aggressively hostile to religion.
Concurring Opinion: Justice Breyer reasoned with the holding mentioning it did not create an excessive
entanglement with religion. No one had challenged the presence of the monument for 40 years, which
suggests that the public regards it as a part of a broader moral and historical message reflective of a
cultural heritage. Justice Gorsuch adds that the cross should be permitted to stand as simply being
offended by the cross’s presence is not enough to justify a lawsuit.
Dissenters: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg expressed disagreement saying that the cross isn’t the symbol
of World War 1 as it was never perceived as an appropriate headstand for Jewish soldiers and other who
didn’t adhere to Christianity. She says maintaining the Peace Cross elevates Christianity over other faiths
and religion over non religion.
My opinion: I agree with Justice Ginsberg as well because we always perceive history as true for all but
forget to see other people who also were in World War 1 if that is what the statue represents. The cross
is still a symbol of Christianity and not a symbol of secularism.