Supporters of a towering cross-shaped monument at a busy intersection in Maryland asked an appeals court this week to revisit a ruling that said it was unconstitutional to have the memorial on public land.

The request for a hearing by the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit follows a decision last month by a three-judge panel that said the 40-foot-tall cross maintained with taxpayer funds “excessively entangles the government in religion” in violation of the First Amendment.

“This is a case of exceptional importance that threatens memorials nationwide. We are hopeful the Fourth Circuit will recognize the significance,” said attorney Michael Carvin, who filed a petition for review Wednesday on behalf of the American Legion.

Adrian Gardner, general counsel for the state agency that owns the monument, said that use of government funds to maintain the memorial is “lawful and consistent with our role as good stewards of local history.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, is also among the monument’s defenders and called the panel’s Oct. 18 ruling “an affront to all veterans” that “should not be allowed to stand.”

The issue for the court was whether the memorial, known as the Peace Cross, is a secular tribute to local men who died in World War I or an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion that must be removed from public property.

The case attracted attention from several conservative members of Congress, who said the legal challenge threatened to eliminate other monuments and inscriptions with religious significance, including at Arlington National Cemetery.

After the panel’s ruling, Hogan directed the state’s attorney general to defend the monument’s location on a grassy median in Bladensburg.

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