A high court win for the Bladensburg Cross


NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s Friday the 21st of June, 2019. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. First up (American Legion v American Humanist Association), the Supreme Court handed down four rulings yesterday.

Among them, the biggest religious liberty case of the term. Seven justices agree that the 40-foot tall World War I memorial in the shape of a cross may remain on public land in Maryland. They did not agree on each aspect of legal analysis, though.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority that the cross is mostly secular in meaning today and that removing or altering it would be seen as government hostility toward religion. Government is required to be neutral.

The legal test used to determine whether government action violates the establishment clause remains. The court did not toss it, as many religious-liberty legal advocates had sought. But at least the Bladensburg Memorial Cross survives.

EICHER: Next (Gundy v United States), a man convicted of raping an 11 year old girl lost his case at the Supreme Court. It involved Herman Gundy, who failed to register as a sex offender when he moved from one state to another. That is a violation of the Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act. But Gundy argued that law wasn’t in effect when he was first convicted, and so as a result, it ought not apply to him retroactively.

But the high court disagreed 5-4. Conservative Justice Alito joined the liberal justices to form a majority.

REICHARD: The third ruling (McDonough v Smith) makes it easier to sue overreaching prosecutors and police. A 6-3 majority gives plaintiffs more time to sue those who fabricate evidence for criminal trials. Once a trial ends in favor of the person against whom false evidence was used, that’s when the time clock begins to run for time-limit purposes.

EICHER: And last (PDR Network, LLC v Carlton Chiropractic, Inc.), a unanimous court sends a case back to lower court because the issues weren’t vetted well enough there. Here, a chiropractic group sued over the federal law against robocalls. The law prohibits sending unsolicited ads by fax. The dispute was over the Federal Communications Commission’s definition of “advertisement” and at what point someone should bring a legal challenge to it. The case is remanded to lower court.


(AP Photo/Kevin Wolf) In this Feb. 13, 2019 file photo, visitors walk around the 40-foot Maryland Peace Cross dedicated to World War I soldiers in Bladensburg, Md. 

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