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The single-payer health care plan known as “Medicare-for-all” now enjoys support from more than half of Democrats in the House of Representatives, with top-ranking Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., adding his name to the list of co-sponsors.

The bill, introduced in February by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., calls for the replacement of private health insurance with a government plan covering everyone. Jeffries became the 118th co-sponsor.

“Given the enduring nature of our health care access and affordability crisis, more must be done,” Jeffries, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said in a statement to The Washington Post.

Jayapal celebrated Jeffries’ support the day before his name officially was added to the sponsor list, tweeting that it is “a huge step in the fight for #MedicareForAll!”

The widespread support in the caucus underscores how quickly the party has embraced the costly policy, popular with the progressive base, since the last presidential election.

When she introduced the bill in February, Jayapal described it as “a complete transformation of our health care system where there are no private insurance companies that provide these core benefits,” saying it would be “universal care, everybody in, nobody out.” At the time, the bill immediately drew support from 106 Democrats.

Since then, another 12 have added their names, with Jeffries being the latest.

The bill would virtually do away with private insurance by making it illegal for private companies to provide the same coverage as the public plan. Jayapal predicted that by doing away with private insurance plans, approximately 1 million people who work for insurance companies would lose their jobs.

“We have thought carefully about how we’d take care of those folks because we think those people are very important,” Jayapal said during a May town hall at American University.

“We have set aside one percent a year of the total cost of the bill for five years to take care of a transition for employees in the private insurance sector,” she explained. “If they are able to retire, that might be one, pension guarantees, job training so they can move into a different system.”

A Senate version of “Medicare-for-all” has been pushed by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

Candidates have split over just how far they are willing to go when it comes to socialized health care. Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., favor a public system that abolishes private insurance, while others such as Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg have called for keeping private options for those who prefer to keep their existing plans.

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Majority of House Dems now support ‘Medicare-for-all’

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford announced Sunday that he is running for president as a Republican, becoming the latest to challenge President Trump in the GOP primaries.

Sanford said the Republican Party is facing an identity crisis, and he wants the GOP to take a look at itself and do some soul searching.

“I think we have to have a conversation about what it means to be a Republican,” Sanford told “Fox News Sunday,” claiming the party “has lost our way.”

Sanford specifically made reference to the debt, deficit and government spending. Other conservatives expressed concern about these issues when Trump helped Congress pass a spending bill that increases spending caps and suspends the debt ceiling, allowing for more government borrowing until July 31, 2021. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., blasted his colleagues at the time, saying it “marks the death of the Tea Party movement in America.”

Sanford also challenged Trump’s tactics when it comes to trade, saying that engaging the world when it comes to trade is “one of the hallmarks of the Republican Party.”

He also brought up political culture, which he said has been “damaged” by Trump.

“We need to have a conversation about humility,” Sanford said, blasting Trump’s social media habits by claiming that a tweet “is not leadership.”

Earlier this summer, when Sanford was still deciding whether to run, he admitted, “I don’t think anybody’s going to beat Donald Trump.”

When pressed on why he is running a race that he knows he will likely lose, Sanford said, “this is the beginning of a long walk, but it begins with a first step.”

Host Chris Wallace grilled Sanford on his own controversies, which include a stretch of nearly a week in 2009 during his term as governor, when he disappeared only to eventually admit that he was in Argentina having an extramarital affair. At the time, his spokesperson said Sanford was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Sanford said he “profoundly apologized for that,” contrasting his remorse with Trump, who he said does not apologize for anything. Trump poked fun at Sanford after his scandal was brought to light, but Sanford insisted that his campaign against the president was not personal.

Sanford is now the third Republican to announce a run against Trump in the primaries, with former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh previously announcing their campaigns.

After Weld and Walsh stated they were running against Trump, Politico reported that the Republican parties of Arizona, Kansas, Nevada and South Carolina were looking to scrap their primaries and caucuses.

“Trump and his allies and the Republican National Committee are doing whatever they can do to eliminate primaries in certain states and make it very difficult for primary challengers to get on the ballot in a number of states,” Walsh told Politico. Weld reacted by tweeting, “Donald Trump, by turns arrogant and paranoid, has made no secret of the fact that he wishes to be crowned as president rather than elected. That might be fine in a monarchy, but we overthrew ours two centuries ago.”

Kansas Republican Party Executive Director Shannon Golden, meanwhile, defended the decision, telling Fox News that the state never has Republican primaries when there is a GOP incumbent.

Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Mark Sanford announces Trump primary challenge: GOP ‘has lost our way’

Presidential hopeful Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., on Tuesday revealed a sweeping $3 trillion plan to combat climate change, calling to “accelerate the end” of fossil fuels and achieve “100% carbon-free electricity” by 2030.

Like the costly and controversial Green New Deal, which Booker co-sponsored in the form of a Senate resolution, Booker’s plan aims to address both climate change and economic inequality.

“To end the real and growing threat of climate change and to create a more just country for everyone, we must heal these past mistakes and act boldly to create a green and equitable future. That’s exactly what I’ll do as president,” Booker said in a statement.

The plan includes an array of executive actions, such as taking on companies that pollute with increased EPA enforcement, requiring all new passenger vehicles to have zero emissions by 2030, and imposing a ban on all new fossil fuel leases. Booker also intends to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and revoke orders from President Trump to approve the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines.

Additionally, Booker wants to push Congress to create a United States Environmental Justice Fund, which would commit $50 billion a year “to advance environmental justice and invest in communities long left behind.” Goals include replacing lead drinking water service lines in residences, schools, and daycares; cleaning abandoned uranium, coal, and hard rock mines; and planting 100 million trees in urban areas that Booker’s plan says suffer disproportionately from air pollution.

The plan sets a goal of 2045 for achieving a completely “carbon-neutral” economy through investments in clean energy such as wind and solar, and “a next-generation smart grid.”

Booker’s plan joins other costly proposals put forth by fellow Democratic candidates.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has proposed a Clean Energy Revolution that would involve $1.7 trillion in federal investments and “additional private sector and state and local investments of more than $5 trillion. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke has a $5 trillion climate plan and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has a plan for a Green New Deal that would cost $16.3 trillion in public funds.

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Cory Booker unveils $3 trillion climate change plan, creating ‘Environmental Justice Fund’

Democrats in the House Judiciary Committee suggested in a court filing Monday that they have been carrying out an impeachment investigation of President Trump since before Robert Mueller’s report was even submitted, which appears to contradict previous statements by committee chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Nadler first claimed earlier this month that “formal impeachment proceedings” were underway when he filed a petition to get secret grand jury information from the Mueller report. But Monday’s filing in a separate case looking to compel testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn suggested that it had already started on March 4 — weeks before Mueller sent his report to Attorney General Bill Barr on March 22.

“On March 4, 2019, the Judiciary Committee opened an investigation into ‘threats to the rule of law,’ encompassing alleged obstruction of justice, public corruption and other abuses of power by President Trump, his associates, and members of his Administration,” the filing says, adding that “one critical purpose of the Committee’s investigation is to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment against the President.”

Monday’s motion called for a preliminary injunction or summary judgment so that McGahn would have to testify. McGahn has refused to comply with a committee subpoena, asserting that he has immunity.

The March 4 date is in line with an Aug. 1 op-ed for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel by Rep. Ted Deutsche, D-Fla., but it is in stark contrast with previous claims from the Democratic leadership.

In a Washington Post interview published March 11, Pelosi said, “Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country.”

According to Monday’s court filing, Democrats were already going down that path a week before that interview went to print.

It was early August when Nadler first told CNN that “formal impeachment proceedings” were taking place, at the same time that he was initiating the case for the secret grand jury material. In May he said during a WNYC radio appearance that “there certainly is” justification for Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, but that it was critical for the American public to agree before launching the process.

“We’re going to have to have the investigation,” Nadler said in response to a question from a caller, adding that he was going to talk to colleagues about the possibility of a formal impeachment inquiry.

Nadler specifically noted in the May appearance that there is a difference between a “formal impeachment inquiry” and holding hearings outside the context of a formal inquiry. He said that there are “functional differences” between holding hearings in an official impeachment investigation and doing so without one, including “legal powers that we wouldn’t have without it.”

Those legal powers include being able to access secret grand jury information, as impeachment investigations have been deemed to fall under an exception that allows disclosure of grand jury material in the context of judicial proceedings.

Nadler’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News questions about when formal proceedings began, or if they are taking place at all.

House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., wrote Monday in a letter to Nadler obtained by Fox News that no such formal proceedings could be taking place, and that Nadler is running afoul of the Rules of the House. According to the letter, Nadler is already preparing for gaining access to the grand jury material by saying that only members of his committee and the House Intelligence Committee could view it. Collins insists that this goes against protocol.

“It is beyond the scope of your authority, absent a vote of the full House, to prohibit other Members of the House from reviewing any materials in possession of the Committee,” Collins wrote, also pointing out that Nadler never received House authorization to conduct a “formal impeachment inquiry.”

“Without these formal steps, the Committee cannot possibly be conducting a ‘formal impeachment inquiry,’ as you claim it is,” Collins said.

In their Monday court filing, the Democrats claimed that their authority for conducting their investigation is derived from their constitutional powers.

“Pursuant to its Article I powers, the Judiciary Committee is investigating Presidential misconduct,” the motion says. “Its investigation is critical to its determination whether to recommend articles of impeachment against the President, and will also inform its legislative and oversight functions.”

Democrats argue that McGahn, in particular, must testify because he is “the most important fact witness in the Judiciary Committee’s investigation into whether to recommend articles of impeachment against the President.” Their motion states that McGahn’s statements to the Special Counsel’s Office are referenced more than 160 times in Mueller’s report, and that “he is uniquely situated to answer factual questions critical to the Judiciary Committee’s investigation[.]”

This was in reference to the report’s discussion of how Trump allegedly asked McGahn to have Mueller fired – a request viewed by Democrats as an obstruction of justice.

The White House told the committee that the president directed McGahn not to testify, relying on the Office of Legal Counsel’s determination that McGahn could not be compelled to testify regarding his time working for the administration.

The committee argued that “President Trump’s directive that McGahn not testify has no valid basis in law.”

Democrats had attempted to have this case assigned to D.C. District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell, who is handling Nadler’s petition for the secret grand jury material in the Mueller report. Their argument was that because both cases are related to their impeachment investigation, they should be heard by the same judge.

Howell disagreed, stating that while the two cases may have stemmed from the same investigation, the facts and legal issues involved are totally unrelated.

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Dem court filing suggests Trump impeachment probe began before Mueller even submitted report

Former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh announced Sunday morning that he is running for president as a Republican, challenging President Trump in the GOP primary race, while delivering a blistering attack on the president’s character and qualifications.

Walsh blasted the president for his social media habits and general behavior.

“I’m running because he’s unfit; somebody needs to step up and there needs to be an alternative,” Walsh said. “The country is sick of this guy’s tantrum — he’s a child.”

At the same time, Walsh recognized that he himself is guilty of the same behavior as the president, and even played a part in the division in Washington that led to Trump’s election.

“I helped create Trump,” the Tea Party favorite told ABC News‘ George Stephanopoulos in an interview that aired Sunday morning. “I feel responsible for that.”

Walsh claimed that Trump was “tweeting us into a recession” and warned that “he’ll tweet us into war.”

Stephanopoulos called out Walsh for making outlandish statements of his own, including calling former President Barack Obama a Muslim and an enemy. Walsh said Trump “made me reflect on some of the things I’ve said in the past,” acknowledging that at times he “went beyond the policies and idea” and “said some ugly things about President Obama that I regret.”

When asked if he truly believes what he said about Obama, Walsh responded, “God no, and I have apologized for that.”

During the same interview, however, Walsh made a series of personal attacks against President Trump.

“He’s nuts, he’s erratic, he’s cruel, he stokes bigotry,” Walsh said. He accused Trump of not caring about America, saying, “the only thing he cares about is Trump.”

Walsh also cited Trump’s 2016 campaign promise to build a wall along the southern border and to have Mexico pay for it, which has not happened.

“He’s incompetent. He has no freakin’ clue what he’s doing,” Walsh said.

The Trump campaign had far fewer words in response to Walsh’s announcement.

“Whatever,” campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said to ABC.

Walsh, who served one term in Congress, acknowledged that he has very little chance of defeating the president in the primaries, but said he wants to promote a different direction for the Republican Party. Earlier in August, Walsh published a New York Times op-ed about the need for Trump to face a primary challenge. He said the positive response to the piece inspired his decision to run.

Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld has previously announced that he is running against Trump in the primaries.

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Joe Walsh laments past controversial statements while blasting Trump: ‘He’s a child’

President Trump is defending himself against accusations of racism, claiming he’s just the latest target of a party that plays the “race card,” as he leveled criticism against Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md.

Trump called out Cummings on Saturday, slamming him as a “brutal bully” for how he spoke to border patrol officials, and said that the congressman’s Baltimore district is in “FAR WORSE” shape than the situation at the southern border. That rebuke resulted in claims of racism from Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but Trump pointed out that he’s hardly the first to get accused of racism, with the speaker herself recently in the middle of a similar controversy.

“Someone please explain to Nancy Pelosi, who was recently called racist by those in her own party, that there is nothing wrong with bringing out the very obvious fact that Congressman Elijah Cummings has done a very poor job for his district and the City of Baltimore. Just take a look, the facts speak far louder than words!” Trump tweeted Sunday morning. “The Democrats always play the Race Card, when in fact they have done so little for our Nation’s great African American people,” he added.

The president appeared to be referring to how House Speaker Pelosi was the target of a thinly veiled accusation of racism when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., accused her of “singling out” women of color. That was after Pelosi dismissed Ocasio-Cortez and her “Squad” — that includes Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley — as being more influential on social media than in Congress. Trump defended Pelosi at the time.

On Saturday, Pelosi stood by Cummings and the city of Baltimore, where she was born, and rebuked Trump, calling his remarks “racist.”

“Rep. Cummings is a champion in the Congress and the country for civil rights and economic justice, a beloved leader in Baltimore, and deeply valued colleague,” she tweeted. “We all reject racist attacks against him and support his steadfast leadership.”

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., also called Trump’s comments “ugly and racist” during a campaign stop on Saturday.

Trump doubled down on his comments against Cummings Saturday afternoon, tweeting, “Elijah Cummings spends all of his time trying to hurt innocent people through ‘Oversight.’ He does NOTHING for his very poor, very dangerous and very badly run district!” The tweet included a video purporting to show a rundown area of West Baltimore.

The video included a female voice lamenting that “they’re worried about the kids at the border, but this is how actual American citizens got to live and deal with,” she added.

Trump tweeted a similar-appearing video late Saturday, asking: “.@RepCummings, why don’t you focus on your district!?”

“Mr. President, I go home to my district daily,” Cummings tweeted in response to Trump’s initial criticism. “Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbors. It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents.”

Trump took another shot at Pelosi Sunday morning, saying her San Francisco district was unrecognizable, and that “Something must be done before it’s too late.”

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Trump throws ‘Squad’ feud back at Pelosi after ‘racist’ accusation: ‘Democrats always play the race card’

Rudy Giuliani pointed the finger squarely at New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio after videos surfaced Monday of people attacking NYPD officers by dousing them with water, saying this “would never happen in a million years when I was mayor of New York City.”

Footage shows separate incidents of people in Harlem and Brooklyn using buckets to splash and dump water over uniformed officers, as the cops calmly walk away. De Blasio condemned the acts as “Completely unacceptable,” and said, “We won’t tolerate this kind of disrespect.” Still, former mayor Giuliani believes the 2020 presidential candidate is part of the problem.

“This is what happens with knee-jerk disrespect for police. It will only get worse until these Left wing idiots are defeated,” Giuliani tweeted Tuesday morning, saying the current “disrespect for the uniform” is the “result of a Democrat-Progressive (Retrogressive)-Socialist Mayor.”

The former mayor had even stronger words Monday night on “The Ingraham Angle,” saying de Blasio was “absolutely destroying the quality of life in this city.”

Giuliani has criticized the mayor in the past over the increase in homelessness in New York City under de Blasio’s administration. Giuliani was known for reducing the number of people living on the streets.

“He’s a disgrace, and even Democrats don’t support him and are embarrassed of him,” Giuliani added, perhaps a reference to de Blasio’s low poll numbers as he campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Mayor de Blasio responded Tuesday afternoon, claiming that Giuliani is at least partly responsible for the tension between police and community members.

“The truth is crime’s NEVER been lower in New York City and that’s because we’re bridging the divide between police and communities — a divide @RudyGiuliani helped create,” de Blasio tweeted.

New York City Police Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch also called out the city’s leadership after the videos went viral.

“Our anti-cop lawmakers have gotten their wish: the NYPD is now frozen. It’s not the fault of these police officers. It’s the end result of the torrent of bad policies and anti-police rhetoric that has been streaming out of City Hall and Albany for years now,” Lynch said in a statement, adding, “Disorder controls the streets, and our elected leaders refuse to allow us to take them back.”

In one of the videos, someone could be seen throwing a bucket at an officer, hitting him in the head as he appeared to be in the middle of an arrest.

Giuliani warned that crime would not decrease as long as officers are in this environment.

“The way you reduce crime is to have police officers with high morale,” he said. “That uniform should be respected.”

NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan called the acts “reprehensible” and said officers do “remarkable” work and that the department has their back.

“Use your discretion — make arrests when necessary — and know that you have our support and full confidence,” he said.

Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison also expressed support for the officers, saying they “have the difficult job of protecting their communities and will not be disrespected while doing so.”

“Although the police department is working on building relationships with the community, there is a line that cannot be crossed,” he said.

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Giuliani shreds de Blasio over videos of NYPD officers doused with water: ‘He’s a disgrace’

President Trump’s dream of a celebration showing off America’s military capabilities will become a reality on Thursday, as the president confirmed tanks will play a role in Washington, D.C.’s Fourth of July festivities — and the vehicles were seen being hauled in on a freight train.

An Associated Press photographer spotted the two M1A1 Abrams tanks, along with four other military vehicles, in a railyard at the southeastern edge of Washington. A military official earlier told the AP that the tanks were transported north from Fort Stewart in Georgia.

This comes after the president said Monday: “We’re going to have some tanks stationed outside.”

The vehicles include M1A1 Abrams tanks, the type currently used by American armed forces, as well as Sherman tanks, the kind commonly used during World War II, according to the president. Having tanks rolling down the streets of D.C. had raised concerns due to their weight, with the Abrams tanks weighing upwards of 60 tons each. Trump acknowledged these concerns Monday, without offering many details.

“You’ve got to be pretty careful with the tanks because the roads have a tendency not to like to carry heavy tanks,” Trump said Monday. “So we have to put them in certain areas, but we have the brand new Sherman tanks and we have the brand new Abrams tanks.”

The military display is all part of the “Salute to America” event that Trump is putting on this Thursday.

“I’m going to say a few words and we’re going to have planes going overhead, the best fighter jets in the world and other planes, too,” Trump said. This includes a demonstration by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.

On Tuesday, Trump tweeted about the upcoming festivities, saying, “The Pentagon & our great Military Leaders are thrilled to be doing this & showing to the American people among other things, the strongest and most advanced Military anywhere in the World.”

There will also be fireworks near the Lincoln Memorial, which is where Trump is scheduled to speak.

Democrats, though, are worried that the president will turn the national event into a political rally.

“President Trump’s efforts to insert politics into a celebration of our nation’s history is extremely alarming,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said in a statement last month. “Forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for what amounts to a political rally is irresponsible and a misuse of funds. I strongly urge the president to reconsider his proposed event.”

Hoyer was among several House Democrats who wrote a letter to Trump on June 6 asking him to abandon his plans, saying they worry it will “create the appearance of a televised, partisan campaign rally on the Mall at public expense.” In asking the president to reconsider, Democrats accused him of wanting to make the event about himself.

“We’re going to have a great Fourth of July in Washington, D.C. It’ll be like no other,” Trump countered. “It’ll be special and I hope a lot of people come. And it’s going to be about this country and it’s a salute to America.”

Along with the aerial demonstrations, fireworks and other festivities, PBS’s 39th annual “A Capitol Fourth” concert will take place on the West Lawn of the Capitol. It will be hosted by “Fuller House” actor John Stamos and include performances by singer-songwriter Carole King, actress and singer Vanessa Williams, pop star Colbie Caillat and a special appearance by the Sesame Street Muppets. A representative from PBS said “A Capitol Fourth” was not affiliated with Trump’s “Salute to America,” which is to be held at the Lincoln Memorial.

Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly and Brooke Singman, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Tanks arrive in DC as Trump confirms July Fourth celebration will feature military display

A key issue that has come up during the Democratic primary season is whether those who enter the United States illegally should be eligible for free healthcare, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez is fully endorsing it.

During Thursday’s Democratic debate, when asked who would support this, all ten of the participating candidates raised their hand. Perez joined them, defending the policy by claiming that illegal immigrants would be paying for their health benefits with tax dollars.

“This is not a handout,” Perez told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.

“Immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, pay billions of dollars in taxes,” he claimed. “Democrats believe that you should be able to buy into a health insurance system … this is allowing people to buy into an insurance program, people who pay billions of dollars in taxes.”

Earlier in the conversation, Wallace grilled Perez on former vice president Joe Biden’s performance during Thursday’s debate, where California Senator Kamala Harris put him on the defensive when it comes to his record on school integration. Biden had opposed federally mandated busing as a way to integrate schools, while Harris said she herself benefited from busing.

When asked how Biden’s chances in the primary race will be affected by this, Perez simply said, “That’ll be up for the voters to decide.”

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: DNC Chair Perez defends free healthcare for illegal immigrants: ‘This is not a handout’

Supreme Court says Peace Cross war memorial can stay

The Supreme Court has ruled that a Peace Cross war memorial on public land outside Washington, D.C., can stand; Shannon Bream reports on the 7-2 decision.

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a Peace Cross war memorial on public land outside Washington, D.C., can stand, determining in a 7-2 decision that it does not violate the Constitution.

Residents of Prince George’s County, Maryland and the American Humanist Association (AHA) had sued to have the cross taken down, and the American Legion, whose symbol is also on the memorial, intervened to defend it. While the residents and AHA claimed that a cross memorial on public land violated the Constitution, the Court determined that factors, including the history of the memorial, support the idea that it is not religious in nature.

“For nearly a century, the Bladensburg Cross has expressed the community’s grief at the loss of the young men who perished, its thanks for their sacrifice, and its dedication to the ideals for which they fought,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the court’s opinion. Alito noted that while this particular cross does not serve a religious purpose, removing it because it is a cross would be a religiously charged action.

“It has become a prominent community landmark, and its removal or radical alteration at this date would be seen by many not as a neutral act but as the manifestation of ‘a hostility toward religion that has no place in our Establishment Clause traditions,’” he wrote, quoting Justice Breyer’s concurrence in the 2005 decision in Van Orden v. Perry.

The court’s decision reverses the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that the cross was unconstitutional.

The 7-2 majority on Thursday cited the structure’s historical nature in its narrowly drawn decision, saying the Latin cross design reflected the nationwide trend at the time it was erected to honor war dead with community monuments. The cross was associated with World War I, and the Court noted that the U.S. used it in military honors, such as the Distinguished Service Cross in 1918 and Navy Cross in 1919.

The Bladensburg Peace Cross, as it is known, sits in a traffic circle in the Washington suburbs to honor 49 local World War I soldiers who died in battle overseas.

Its supporters, including the Trump administration, said it was created solely to honor those heroes and is secular in nature. Opponents called it an impermissible overlap of church and state, since it is controlled and cared for by a Maryland parks commission.

The Court noted that while the cross has its roots in Christianity, it currently appears contexts that are “indisputably secular,” such as trademarks for Blue Cross Blue Shield, Bayer Group, and certain products from Johnson & Johnson.

The Court also made a distinction between keeping established monuments with religious symbols, like the Peace Cross, and erecting new ones, stating, “Familiarity itself can become a reason for preservation,” and, “The passage of time gives rise to a strong presumption of constitutionality.”

Even AHA recognized that cross memorials may be permissible in some cases, like certain World War I Latin crosses in Arlington National Cemetery. While AHA claimed that those crosses are different because they are in a cemetery and are more associated with individual soldiers, the Court said that does not make a difference, as memorials serve the same purpose as gravestones for many grieving families.

Ultimately, the Court determined that despite the religious significance of crosses in general, this particular memorial does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, even though public funds are used for its upkeep.

“[T]there is no evidence of discriminatory intent in the selection of the design of the memorial or the decision of a Maryland commission to maintain it,” the Court said. “The Religion Clauses of the Constitution aim to foster a society in which people of all beliefs can live together harmoniously, and the presence of the Bladensburg Cross on the land where it has stood for so many years is fully consistent with that aim.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg took issue with the notion that a cross could be secularized just because it serves as a war memorial.

“Just as a Star of David is not suitable to honor Christians who died serving their country, so a cross is not suitable to honor those of other faiths who died defending their nation,” she wrote in a dissenting opinion, where she was joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The dissent claimed that by having the Peace Cross on a public highway, the government “elevates Christianity over other faiths, and religion over nonreligion.”

Fox News’ Bill Mears and Shannon Bream contributed to this report.

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Supreme Court rules Peace Cross war memorial can stand

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