Hogan Asks Frosh to Help Him Save Giant ‘Peace Cross’

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The “Peace Cross.” Photo by Ben Jacobson, via Wikimedia Commons.

Maryland’s Republican governor has asked an unlikely source for help protecting a hulking, 40-foot concrete cross in Prince George’s County.

In a letter sent to Attorney General Brian Frosh yesterday, Hogan has asked his Democratic counterpart to submit an amicus brief to a federal appeals court disputing its ruling that it is unconstitutional for the state to maintain the cross-shaped monument in Prince George’s County.

Per The Sun’s John Fritze, Hogan’s letter asserts that Maryland’s decision to house and perform maintenance work on the cross isn’t problematic because it “has been in place and under government maintenance for many years.” He also says the court’s ruling from last week is “wrongly decided” and “offends common sense, is an affront to all veterans, and should not be allowed to stand.”

He pointed out that the cross serves as a memorial to 49 fallen Pricne George’s County dwellers killed in World War I.

A spokeswoman for Frosh said via email today that he “just received the Governor’s letter yesterday” and is reviewing it.

A panel of judges on the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled last week that the state’s maintenance of the cross violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which draws a separating line between church and state. Maryland has spent $117,000 on the monument, and set aside an additional $100,000 for it in 2008.

From the panel’s opinion:

The monument here has the primary effect of endorsing religion and excessively entangles the government in religion. The Latin cross is the core symbol of Christianity. And here, it is 40 feet tall; prominently displayed in the center of one of the busiest intersections in Prince George’s County, Maryland; and maintained with thousands of dollars in government funds.

Hogan responded with a rare jump into the ring to fight for religious culture, writing on Facebook that the ruling is an “unacceptable overreach.”

“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,” the governor proclaimed online.

The American Humanist Association, which advocates for division between government and religion,first  sued the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission over the monument in 2014. If the appeals court’s ruling sticks, the monument could be torn down.

Hogan has generally managed to stay out of the so-called culture wars that plague American politics, opting instead to chart his own path as a moderate Republican governing a Democrat-dominated state. So far it’s worked, according to the polls.

His request is to Frosh is even more noteworthy due to their recent clashes. Hogan has complained about Frosh’s frequent use of his new power to sue the federal government without the governor’s approval. Frosh, meanwhile, has irked Hogan by deeming it illegal for his administration to pay two Cabinet secretaries who Hogan reappointed even after they failed to get confirmed by the General Assembly in the spring.

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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in CityLab, Slate, Baltimore City Paper, DCist and elsewhere.
Ethan McLeod
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