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PREVIEW examines High Court’s latest First Amendment case

The February issue of the ABA Division for Public Education PREVIEW publication, provides an in-depth look at a First Amendment case to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, Feb. 27.  in American Legion v. American Humanist Association Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission v. American Humanist Association.

The issue to be decided in this case is whether the Establishment Clause requires the removal or destruction of a 93-year-old memorial to American servicemen who died in World War I solely because the memorial bears the shape of a cross.

The article provides an overview of the case, lists the facts, a detailed case analysis and its significance.

“The case affords the Court an opportunity to expound on the meaning of the Establishment Clause and perhaps bring clarity to an area of First Amendment jurisprudence that has been referred to as a muddled mess,” writes David L. Hudson, Jr., the author of the article. Hudson, a visiting associate professor of legal practice at Belmont Law School in Nashville, Tenn., is the author and coauthor or coeditor of more than 40 books. “The Court perhaps could settle on a single test for Establishment Clause cases, or at least religious display cases.”

The 40-foot cross monument was completed in 1925 and sits in a busy median on a Maryland highway in Prince George’s County among other monuments dedicated to veterans from various wars. In 2014, the American Humanists Association and three individuals challenged the monument on Establishment Clause grounds.

Hudson notes that the Court’s decision will have “practical significance” for communities around the country that have memorials with religious messages or imagery.

To download the article, click here.

Preview is an eight-issue subscription publication that provides expert, plain-language analysis of all cases given plenary review by the Supreme Court in advance of oral argument. Preview issues 1-7 precede the Court’s seven argument sessions from October to April. Published in July following the close of the Court’s term at the end of June, Preview issue 8 reviews the term using a combination of charts, statistics, case summaries, and essays.

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