U.S. District Judge Larry Burns has ordered last December 12 for the removal of the Mount Soledad Cross atop a Southern California mountain saying it is a violation of the separation of the government and the state. The cross has been standing in its spot for decades now and is the subject of a long legal battle over its legality.
According to Judge Burns, the cross has to be removed within 90 days but it may be able to stay if its case is appealed.
This is not the first time the 43-foot cross on top of Mount Soledad, San Diego subjected to legal actions, it has been under ongoing litigation over its legal status since 1989.
“Of course we are disappointed in what the ruling is — that is to take the cross down,” declared Bruce Bailey, president of the Mount Soledad Memorial Association in an interview with KGTV.
Bailey even added that his organization is already drafting an appeal for the said order, thus, prolonging the legal battle over the Mount Soledad cross.
The Legal War
The Mount Soledad cross was erected 59 years ago – in 1954 – in honor of the veterans who served in the Korean War but has been subjected to constant legal bickers since 1989 when two Vietnam veterans filed a lawsuit against it saying it violated the “no preference” clause stated in the California Constitution.
Since the first lawsuit filed that year, the city of San Diego had tried to sell the property where the cross was erected twice to the Mount Soledad Memorial Association but the dealings were stopped by the courts’ rulings.
In 2004, the parties involved in the legal war reached an agreement that would have moved the cross to a church nearby but it was stopped when two congressmen intervened by interpolating a rider in the 2005 omnibus budget bill that appropriated the property as a national veterans memorial giving the federal government the authority to accepting the property’s donation.
This said action led to more court fillings and legal fights.
In 2006, three congressmen promoted a bill calling for the government to get hold of the property through eminent domain as it is “a historically significant war memorial”. The government did so August of that year.
A lawsuit was then promptly filed to challenge that transfer and the ruling last December 12 was the result of it.