BLADENSBURG, Md. — A federal appeals court Thursday rejected a request to reconsider its ruling that a 40-foot-tall cross on a Maryland highway median just outside Washington violates the U.S. Constitution, prompting supporters of the war memorial to vow to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A divided 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 8-6 to deny a request from the American Legion and other supporters of the 93-year-old World War I monument known as the Peace Cross to rehear the case before the full court.

A three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit ruled in October that having the monument on public land “excessively entangles the government in religion.”

Judge Paul Niemeyer, one of six judges who disagreed with the ruling, said he believes the full court should hear the case because the decision has far-reaching consequences and “needlessly puts at risk hundreds of monuments with similar symbols standing on public grounds across the country,” including Arlington National Cemetery, where large crosses commemorate fallen soldiers.

Construction of the cross was completed in 1925 after a group of mothers decided to build a memorial to honor their sons and others from Prince George’s County, Maryland, who died in World War I.


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