WASHINGTON (CNS) — The U.S. Supreme Court June 30 declined to intervene in a long-running dispute over the Mount Soledad Cross war memorial located on federal land near San Diego.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the issue must go back through the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals before the high court can step in.
The Mount Soledad Memorial Association had urged the high court to intervene directly, claiming that in earlier rulings, the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit has been “hostile” to the cross.
In June 2012 the high court similarly turned down the Mount Soledad Cross case in an appeal of a January 2011 ruling by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit that having the cross on public land violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The panel sent the case back to U.S. District Judge Larry Burns in San Diego, who had ruled in favor of the government in 2008.
The 43-foot concrete cross on Mount Soledad in the La Jolla section of San Diego has had a long legal history since its predecessor — a much smaller, wooden cross — was first placed there in 1913. It has been rebuilt twice. The current structure was completed in the 1950s.
After federal courts in the 1990s ruled that the cross violated the state constitution’s guarantee of separation of church and state, voters approved selling the cross and its surrounding park to a memorial association. That sale was voided by courts, and subsequent efforts to sell to a private organization or to donate it to the U.S. Department of the Interior also were overruled for various reasons.
In 2006, President George W. Bush signed a law transferring the property to the Defense Department as a war memorial.
The cross’s opponents, among them the American Civil Liberties Union, claim it is illegal to display a religious symbol on public land, because it is a violation of the separation of church and state.
Judges have several times ruled that the cross is illegal and had to be removed or sold to the highest bidder. Defenders of the cross explored several options for preserving the cross.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: Appeals court upholds legality of same-sex marriage in Utah
NEXT: Protect Religious Freedom Restoration Act, faith leaders tell Congress
Share this story