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Best Week, Worst Week: Baltimore startup expands again; ACLU calls ‘Peace Cross’ unconstitutional

best-worst-020219A Baltimore data science startup increased its national footprint this week with the acquisition of a Denver firm’s digital transformation practice, while supporters of the Bladensburg Cross were dealt a blow as the American Civil Liberties Union called the “Peace Cross” unconstitutional.

Business and technology writer Tim Curtis reported Baltimore-based Catalyte acquired Statêra Digital, a practice which helps companies prepare for their digital futures and digital innovation through a process called digital transformation. Catalyte will now bring its workforce development platform that uses data science to identify new potential software engineers and developers to Denver, its fourth city.

In Statêra Digital, a company that has been on the radar of Catalyte CEO Jacob Hsu for a few years, Catalyte is getting expertise and the teams that know how to handle and develop digital transformation processes. The deal continues Catalyte’s recent expansion, having acquired Seattle consulting firm Surge on the heels of a $27 million funding round in February 2018.

Software engineers and developers can be among the most in-demand fields. It is an area where jobs go unfilled, and the deficit between job openings and available talent is only expected to grow over the next five years. Catalyte will be bringing on 50 of Statêra’s 130 employees. For Catalyte, Statêra, with its own workforce innovations, will provide multiple areas where Catalyte can help a company prepare for their digital future.

Meanwhile, The ACLU of Maryland came out this week urging the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that a 40-foot cross erected as a war memorial on public land that straddles Montgomery and Prince George’s counties violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

Legal affairs writer Steve Lash reported Thursday that the rights group called the cross “an unmistakable and potent symbol of Christianity” whose display shows official favoritism toward a single faith in violation of the constitutional command that government remain neutral on religion.

The ACLU of Maryland joined the brief with representatives of minority religions as the justices prepare to hear challenges from the local park service and veterans’ group to a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the cross endorses Christianity in violation of the First Amendment’s prohibition on governmental “establishment” of religion. The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and the American Legion argue that the 4th Circuit read the Constitution too strictly and that the Bladensburg Cross symbolizes not religion but noble and patriotic sacrifice.

The Supreme Court is to hear arguments Feb. 27 on the constitutionality of the cross in the consolidated cases The American Legion v. American Humanist Association and Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission v. American Humanist Association, Nos. 17-1717 and 18-18 and the justices are expected to render their decision by this summer.