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Sean D. Reyes
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Utah Joins Fight to Protect Veterans Memorial

August 6, 2018


U.S. Supreme Court asked to weigh in on constitutionality of World War I memorial

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes joined a bipartisan group of 28 states last week fighting to protect a historic cross in Maryland honoring World War I veterans as part of a case with much broader implications for the First Amendment.

The 28-state coalition urges the U.S. Supreme Court to consider and ultimately protect veterans memorials that include religious symbolism. The coalition’s friend of the court brief seeks to overturn a lower court’s ruling that a Maryland memorial violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits making any law “respecting the establishment of religion.”

“This case focuses on a war memorial in Maryland honoring 49 soldiers who gave their lives in WWI, but it is much bigger than that,” said Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. “This Supreme Court decision will impact all of us in the manner in which we remember our history and honor our dead.  Utah understands that the U.S. Constitution should never force Americans to jettison faith, the First Amendment, or our sacred military history.”

The case at hand involves a nearly century-old memorial cross in Bladensburg, Maryland, built by community members and mothers, whose sons died in World War I, and the American Legion. The lawsuit brought by the American Humanist Association seeks to force the state to tear down and replace the historic cross.

If the Supreme Court were to review the case, its ultimate decision could impact hundreds of memorials across the nation, including those at Arlington National Cemetery.
Utah joined the West Virginia brief with attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

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  1. You can read the brief here:
  2. Find more information about the Bladensburg Memorial here: