Written by Don Byrd
The legal dispute over the memorial cross on Mt. Soledad in San Diego is not for those who enjoy closure. A Church-state battle over the Mt. Soledad cross has remained in courts for more than 20 years, after the initial lawsuit was filed in 1989. In 2006, an act of Congress turned the land on which the 29-foot cross sits into federal property. That move saved the cross for the time being after being declared unconstitutional, but opened it up to new challenges that the memorial violated the separation of church and state.
In 2011, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the cross display unconstitutional and sent the case back to a trial court judge to determine whether and how the display could be salvaged. Last week, that judge ruled that no avenues were available that would pass constitutional muster other than removing the cross from the site altogether.
The NYTimes reports:
Lawyers for the plaintiffs celebrated Thursday’s ruling. They said no one wanted the cross destroyed, and hoped the federal government would now negotiate to move it elsewhere.
“This is a win for religious liberty,” said Daniel Mach, who argued the case for the American Civil Liberties Union. “The government can and should honor those who served and died for this country, but not by playing favorites with faiths.”
Supporters of the cross indicated they planned to appeal.
The judge gave parties 90 days to appeal before the cross must be removed.