- The Washington Times - Friday, June 28, 2019

The Supreme Court’s ruling approving a war memorial cross is beginning to reverberate, with the justices on Friday ordering a lower court to go back and rethink a decision demanding another memorial be torn down in Florida.

That memorial is the 34-foot high “Bayview Cross,” erected by residents in Pensacola in 1941 and updated in 1969.

A judge ruled in 2017 that even though the cross had a long and often secular history in the community, it “offended” four people, and had to be removed because it was maintained with public money.

That decision looks iffy, though, after the Supreme Court ruled earlier this month in favor of another cross, in Bladensburg, Maryland, finding in a 7-2 ruling that it had become a part of the community in ways that went well beyond its Christian symbolism.

A plurality of the high court suggested long-standing memorials, even with religious overtones, are presumptively constitutional.

Tearing them down could even be seen as unconstitutional hostility to religion, argued Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing the chief opinion in last week’s Bladensburg case.

Other justices weren’t ready to go that far, ruling that cases must be taken individually.

The Florida cross will likely be the first test of how lower courts view the complicated Bladensburg decision.

In an order Friday, the justices erased the lower court’s ruling against the cross, and sent the matter back for a new review.

“The Supreme Court’s order is an encouraging sign that the Bayview cross can stay in Pensacola just like the Peace Cross can stay in Maryland,” said Luke Goodrich, vice president at Becket, a religious liberty group that’s defending Pensacola and the Bayview Cross. “We fully expect the lower court to follow the Supreme Court’s lead.”

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