On Wednesday, Muslim Advocates and the law firm Arnold & Porter filed an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm the country’s longstanding commitment to separation of church and state in two cases involving a 40-foot cross on state property in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
The “Bladensburg Cross” is a 40-foot monument located at a busy intersection in a Maryland suburb and has long been maintained by the state’s government. In two consolidated cases to be decided by the Supreme Court, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission v. American Humanist Association and The American Legion v. American Humanist Association, the justices must determine whether the cross violates the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, a fundamental protection that ensures that the government does not favor one faith over another. In the amicus brief filed yesterday, Muslim Advocates and Arnold & Porter argue that not only does the Bladensburg Cross clearly violate the constitution, it also sends a message of exclusion to religious minorities and countless others who encounter the cross on a daily basis.
“Maryland has no business maintaining a religious monument, especially one that’s forty feet tall,” said Nimra Azmi, staff attorney at Muslim Advocates. “We hope that the Supreme Court uses these cases as an opportunity to reaffirm our country’s fundamental belief that no government in this country should make anyone feel excluded or unwelcome because of their religious beliefs.”
“This case offers the Supreme Court an opportunity to reaffirm the Establishment Clause’s historic role as a check against religious persecution and a safeguard of religious conscience,” said Andrew Tutt, attorney at Arnold & Porter. “We were honored to support Muslim Advocates in encouraging the Court to take that opportunity.”