The Patriot Post® · World War Won: Cross Memorial Stays, Court Rules

By Tony Perkins ·

They were farmers, surgeons, a professor, even the president of the Marine Corps baseball team. One was a man in his 50s, already wounded, who had “no business being on the front lines.” They were 49 men with one thing in common: they never came home. Today, most Marylanders couldn’t tell you their stories. That’s because 100 years after the war ended, we’re too busy fighting for what those heroes died to give us: freedom.

It’s been 94 years since a grieving mom pulled the flag away from the base of a 40-foot cross, revealing the names of almost 50 soldiers — mostly boys — who gave their lives in World War 1. For almost a century, the cross has stood against the sky, one mile from the D.C. line, a fixture against an ever-changing landscape. It’s survived a second world war, Korea, the Cuban missile crisis, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, 9/11, and now — thanks to the Supreme Court — its biggest battle: radical extremists, bent on tearing the memorial down because it was in the shape of a cross.

Alvergia Guyton is one of the few people left with a personal connection to the cross. “It’s been there all my life,” she said. Her great uncle had been one of those brave teenagers, marching off to join the Army in an all-African American unit. She’s shocked anyone would even think of challenging it. “It’s history,” she insisted. This morning, seven justices of America’s highest court agreed, leaving John Seaburn’s sacrifice — and the sacrifices of Prince George’s County’s sons intact.

By a 7-2 vote, the justices were clear, “The cross is undoubtedly a Christian symbol, but that fact should not blind us to everything else that the Bladensburg Cross has come to represent. For some, that monument is a symbolic resting place for ancestors who never returned home. For others, it is a place… to gather and honor all veterans and their sacrifices for our Nation. For others still, it is a historical landmark.” At its core, they insist, it’s “part of the community.” In fact, the justices argued, “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.”

When the American Humanist Association (AHA) argued that the cross was somehow an official endorsement of religion, Justice Samuel Alito couldn’t have disagreed more. The whole point of the “religious clauses of the Constitution” are to “foster a society in which people of all beliefs can live together harmoniously…[T]he presence of the Bladensburg Cross on the land where it has stood for so many years is fully consistent with that aim.”

Would the activists at the AHA say that California is trying to “convey a religious message” by keeping city names like Los Angeles and San Diego,“ the justices asked? Of course not. "Much the same is true about monuments to soldiers who sacrificed their lives for this country more than a century ago.” If the court struck down this cross, there’d be no end to the absurdity. What about the Red Cross, the justices asked? How could it keep its name? Or the military’s medals — like the Navy Cross and Distinguished Service Cross?

In a concurring opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch talked about how tired he is of this “I-take-offense” threshold for suing. “In a large and diverse country, offense can be easily found. Really, most every governmental action probably offends somebody. No doubt, too, that offense can be sincere, sometimes well taken, even wise. But recourse for disagreement and offense does not lie in federal litigation. Instead, in a society that holds among its most cherished ambitions mutual respect, tolerance, self-rule, and democratic responsibility, an ‘offended viewer’ may ‘avert his eyes’…or pursue a political solution.” In other words, Gorsuch insisted, if secularists are this upset about the memorial, take it up with the legislature! After all, Justice Kavanaugh added, “This court is not the only guardian of individual rights in America.”

As grateful as we are for the victory, there are many — FRC included — who were hoping the justices would take the opportunity to overhaul the mess our courts have made of the Establishment Clause. Protecting war memorials is important, but these issues will continue to bubble up if the Supreme Court doesn’t scrap the “Lemon test” that’s driven the attacks on other faith-based monuments and displays. Justice Thomas was certainly more than ready to.

“Nearly half a century after Lemon,” Thomas writes, “and, the truth is, no one has any idea about the answers to these questions. As the plurality documents, our ‘doctrine [is] in such chaos’ that lower courts have been ‘free to reach almost any result in almost any case.’ Scores of judges have pleaded with us to retire Lemon, scholars of all stripes have criticized the doctrine, and a majority of this Court has long done the same. Today, not a single Member of the Court even tries to defend Lemon against these criticisms — and they don’t because they can’t… It is our job to say what the law is, and because the Lemon test is not good law, we ought to say so.”

As we explained in FRC’s amicus brief, religion has a natural, proper, and even essential role in our public life and the life of our military. We’re grateful for the result the Supreme Court delivered yesterday — but we’ll continue to push the court to correct the confusion that’s been used to scrub religious messages, signs, and symbols from public life.

Originally published here.

What’s Life Got to Do with It?

You can debate the merits of the Hyde amendment — but not the point of it. Unless, of course, you’re Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). The freshman Democrat has been wrong about plenty of things, but there’s a difference between being wrong and being outright dishonest. On ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” she managed to be both.

The Democratic Party is so far away from the American people on life they could start their own colony. With just single-digit support for some of their extreme social causes, people like Ocasio-Cortez are trying to make their agenda more palatable. This past Sunday, she tried to help the Democrats’ cause by arguing that taxpayer-funded abortion doesn’t really have anything to do with… abortion.

“The Hyde amendment isn’t about abortion, per se,” she insisted. “Hmmm,” ABC’s Jonathan Karl murmurs as Ocasio-Cortez goes on to argue that it’s really about “income inequality.” “The Hyde amendment is truly about equality of health care and health care access for low-income women and women of color and women that get caught in our mass incarceration system… So I think that we need to repeal it,” she said, before launching into a pitch for her petition to do exactly that.

Voters, meanwhile, couldn’t be more turned off by the idea of tearing down the only wall between taxpayers and the abortion industry. “The Democrats need an adult in the room to explain the absolute necessity of the Hyde Amendment,” Greg Gutfeld argued on Fox News’s “The Five.” “You [can] have your abortion — all the Hyde amendment is doing is preserving civility between people who think abortion is murder [and] people who don’t…” He’s right. One of the reasons the Hyde amendment is so popular is because it’s one of the few remaining social compromises that works.

It also happens to save lives — a lot of them. In a study just published in BMC Women’s Health, experts calculated that about 29 percent of Louisiana women who would’ve had an abortion if Medicaid paid for it decided to have their babies instead. It’s such an astonishing number that even Vox admits, “…[T]he new research is a reminder that Hyde’s effects are real and significant.” That’s certainly true for the two million American lives it’s saved since 1976, as our friends at the Charlotte Lozier Institute have pointed out. Its impact is powerful, Vox laments — almost as powerful, Anna North writes, as overturning Roe.

For now, Hill Democrats and the 2020 field are on their own when it comes to erasing Hyde. As Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) argued in a heated exchange with Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), all they’re doing is driving voters away. “[W]hen it comes to abortion, the current position of the modern Democratic Party, which supports unlimited abortion on demand, partial birth abortion up until the moment of birth, with taxpayer funding and no parental notification and consent. Nine percent of Americans agree with the position of today’s Democratic Party. That is an extreme and out of step position.” And a tough one to defend, come election time.

Originally published here.

A Minor Problem: Taxpayers to Fund Gender Surgery for Kids

Most schools can’t give a child an aspirin without getting a parents’ okay. But in Vermont, kids are about to get a whole lot more than Tylenol. Under a new rule, they’ll be able to get entirely new bodies — in some cases, without ever calling home.

If you thought the war on parents’ rights was bad now, just wait. The Green Mountain State just dropped a massive bombshell in the transgender fight. According to local media, Vermont’s health insurance regulators are about to overhaul the state’s Medicaid rules, forcing taxpayers to cover the cost of everything from genital surgery to a mastectomy for minors. If the new guidelines go into effect, kids under the age of 18 would be able to undergo radical procedures — paid for by Vermonters.

And that’s not the worst of it. With a simple judge’s note, they can bypass mom and dad altogether. That’s because the state is also adding language for a judicial bypass, which, as most pro-lifers know, is how the Left manages to get around parental consent laws on abortion. Now, with the stroke of a judge’s pen, young people can keep their parents in the dark, as they choose from 16 different ways to disfigure their bodies.

Dr. Rachel Inker, who heads up the Transgender Health Clinic at the Community Health Centers of Burlington, cheered the move. “Having young people have to wait until they were 21 just didn’t really make any sense.” Tell that to the American College of Pediatricians, who’ve been warning about rushing minors into these life-altering decisions for years. It’s “child abuse,” the College insists, especially since “98 percent of gender confused boys and 88 percent of gender confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty.”

While Vermont insists on locking them into this new identity, surgeons like Dr. Miroslav Djordjevic — who do this kind of reassignment surgery for a living — are horrified that anyone would push children to embrace these fleeting feelings. It’s a mistake, he insists. If the age limit for surgeries is reduced, he says, he would refuse his services. “I’m afraid what will happen five to 10 years later with this person,” he says. “It is more than about surgery; it’s an issue of human rights. I could not accept them as a patient as I’d be afraid what would happen to their mind.”

In a lengthy article with the National Post about the growing number of his patients with regrets, Dr. Djordjevic admits he has “deep reservations” about treating children with hormonal drugs before they reach puberty. Surgery is simply a bridge too far. What these kids need, said one of the foremost experts in the field — Johns Hopkins’s Dr. Paul McHugh — is psychological help and guidance, “not a surgeon with drugs, scalpel, forceps, and sutures. They need ‘evidence-based care,’ not ideological support from Left-wing activists and those who suffer the same mental illness.”

Take it from these teens who formerly identified as transgender: America needs to step back from the activism, the ideologies, and other voices, and consider what we’re doing to our children. Because if Vermont isn’t thinking about the risks, someone has to.

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.