An extremely high profile and highly significant "Establishment clause" case to be heard by SCOTUS on Wednesday (2/27/19) (Supreme Court docket #17-1717) (Supreme Court docket #18-18)

The American Legion v. American Humanist Association (and its linked case Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission v. American Humanist Association) will be heard at 10:00 am on Wednesday, February 27th, with 70 minutes of oral arguments scheduled, slightly over the normal 1 hour.

Issues #17-1717 : (1) Whether a 93-year-old memorial to the fallen of World War I is unconstitutional merely because it is shaped like a cross; (2) whether the constitutionality of a passive display incorporating religious symbolism should be assessed under the tests articulated in Lemon v. Kurtzman, Van Orden v. Perry, Town of Greece v. Galloway or some other test; and (3) whether, if the test from Lemon v. Kurtzman applies, the expenditure of funds for the routine upkeep and maintenance of a cross-shaped war memorial, without more, amounts to an excessive entanglement with religion in violation of the First Amendment.

Issue #18-18 : Whether the establishment clause requires the removal or destruction of a 93-year-old memorial to American servicemen who died in World War I solely because the memorial bears the shape of a cross.

This is a case that I will be watching very closely, because it could result in the biggest change in Establishment Clause jurisprudence since Lemon v. Kurtzman and indeed could result in the overturning of Lemon.

Lemon (and the Lemon test) have been a miserable cluster **** ever since that case was decided many years ago and the court has frequently ignored its own Lemon test when deciding cases, as the Lemon test has often been unworkable or resulted in irrational jurisprudence.

Hopefully, the Supreme Court will overturn Lemon once and for all and greatly narrow the scope of prohibited behavior under the Establishment clause. Behavior that amounts to an outright establishment or practical establishment of religion should, of course, remain out of bounds. But a passive memorial which happens to be in the shape of a cross and primarily memorializes soldiers should be permissible.

I, myself, am a non-theist, yet I find absolutely nothing about this memorial to be offensive or oppressive to me in any way. I am absolutely fine with this memorial and would be more offended by its removal due to Constitutional misinterpretation.

There are a large number of amici briefs, accessible via the Scotusblog and Supreme Court links I have provided at the top of this post, not to mention the merits briefs by the various parties to the case. The link just above is to the Cato Institute’s amicus brief in this case.

The United States has filed an amicus brief in support of Petitioners and will participate in oral arguments. Here is the link to their brief:

Should be very interesting. This is the only case being argued on Wednesday.

This is one to watch for sure.

I’m not a religious person at all. But I find nothing offensive about memorials with crosses or any other religious symbol so long as it’s displayed in a respectful way in regards to what it’s memorializing.


Atheist orgs in the US need to pick their battles well.

They may be legally in the right, but from a PR perspective these kind of fights do them no favors.

Better to file the lawsuits when a monument or prayer/convocation is denied to a non-Christian group imo. Easier to win on legal and moral/PR grounds.

That is how it work in Canada, the government can display religious symbolism just can’t refuse be selective about what religious symbolism.

Isn’t Canada part of the UK? Isn’t the Church of England still the UK state religion?

Canada is not part of the UK we are our own Kingdom simply share the same Queen. fun fact this is why the Queen doesn’t wear the British Crown in her offical portrait.

Your Queen is head of the Church of England.

Yes but the Church of England isn’t the offical religion of the Canadian government, the most common religion in Canada is Catholicism oddly enough.

for the aspect of legality the Queen of England and the Queen of Canada are two completely different people.

The UK is a Christian nation, seats in the house of Lords are reserved for clergy.

We aren’t somuch a nation of Christians anymore however.

Lucky to have avoided that trap. The UK is very much still legally a Christian nation, and undoing that would be constitutionally messy. So we just largely ignore it.

It was avoid on purpose mostly because the majority of Canadian were Catholics and the Church of England has a history of burning them.

The Queen might be the same person but in term of law each kingdom is treated like a completely separate person. so the Queen of England is the head of the Church, but the Queen of Canada isn’t.

Catholics because of the French influence?

Yes and those trying to escape the Church of England and American evangelicals.

American Evangelicals are easy to escape. Just stay out of their churches.

Catholic are so influential in Canadian society that we have publicly funded a Catholic school system which I attended.

but now we have publicly funded Jewish, Hindu, Muslim school too.
but the Catholic system is still by far the largest and most well funded (due to the nature of getting both public and private funding they are better funded then the normal public school system)

Interesting. Thanks for the info.

There are so many disturbing things, like crosses, dedicated to WWI veterans, out in the desert, that can rattle an individual to their core. “We” must be protected from these evils.

It’s the Transylvanian- Americans that get triggered by crosses.


Do you think it likely that Canada will leave the commonwealth once Queenie kicks the bucket? I know a couple of commonwealth nations have pretty openly implied that they’re planning to.

Because they don’t like Charles?