Gov. Larry Hogan took to social media Friday to air his disgust at a federal court’s ruling that a cross-shaped World War I memorial in Prince George’s County is unconstitutional, promising to “fight this unacceptable overreach.”
The Republican governor maintains a high approval rating in deep-blue Maryland. And so far, he has preferred to avoid the ongoing and bitterly divisive culture wars that have come to define contemporary American politics.
He voiced quiet dissent as calls for the removal of Maryland’s Confederate and pro-slavery monuments swelled. But when white supremacists took to the streets in Charlottesville, Va., resulting in the death of one anti-racist protester, Hogan went along with the decision to remove a statue of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, author of the infamous Dredd Scott decision, from State House grounds. Hogan called the removal “the right thing to do” and blasted President Donald Trump’s full-throated defense of Confederate monuments as “not presidential.”
Instead, Hogan has pushed his conservative, business-conscious agenda by focusing on simpler issues with broader appeal, such as extending summer vacation through Labor Day, reducing highway tolls, and getting more air conditioners into Baltimore County Schools. This pragmatic approach to governance prompted the Washington Post to dub Hogan “the un-Trump Republican,” a “radically normal” politician in an age of hyper-partisanship.
But perhaps we’ve seen the limits of Hogan’s cultural pacifism. The governor fired off a Facebook screed in response to a U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the giant “Peace Cross,” maintained with public money, “has the primary effect of endorsing religion and excessively entangles the government in religion.”
“The idea that memorializing our soldiers killed in battle on foreign lands to make the world safe for democracy is somehow unconstitutional goes against everything we stand for as Americans,” Hogan wrote. “Our administration will fight this unacceptable overreach. Enough is enough.”
The monument was challenged by the American Humanist Association, which has suggested that “government war memorials should respect all veterans, not just those from one religious group.”