July 3, 2012
Supreme Court Rejects Appeal of Mt. Soledad Cross
(Updated) Not all cross disputes head to the court: One California city has reached an "unusually amicable" compromise.
Update (April 22, 2013): In a similar case, parties in the city of Riverside, California, have reached an "unusually amicable resolution" in its dispute over a cross at the top of Mount Rubidoux, a public park. When the city decided to auction off the land where the cross stands, a coalition of nonprofits offered the winning bid—and they plan to maintain the cross now that the land is privately owned.
The 43-foot-high cross that stands atop Mount Soledad in Southern California may not commemorate fallen soldiers much longer, according to Monday’s Supreme Court ruling. The federal bench rejected an appeal by the Obama administration and the Mount Soledad Memorial Association arguing the government should not be forced to take down the memorial cross that has graced California's coastline for 58 years.
Reuters reports the Supreme Court issued a brief order that denied the appeals by the administration and the association without comment. But Justice Samuel Alito issued a separate statement saying the denial "does not amount to a ruling on the merits."
“The Federal Government is free to raise the same issue in a later petition following entry of a final judgment,” said Alito, according to the L.A. Times.
The iconic war memorial, constructed in 1954, stands between the Pacific Ocean and the San Diego Freeway and is visible for miles. Walls displaying granite plaques that commemorate veterans of varying religious convictions surround it.
A 2011 ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declared the structure ”an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion” that, in time, may need to be torn down. According to Alito, it is still unclear precisely what action the federal government will be required to take.
CT has spotlighted Supreme Court tussles over public crosses, as well as debate over whether memorial crosses should be considered secular.