A war memorial cross has been deemed too religious by federal judge in San Diego. U.S. District Judge Larry Burns ruled yesterday that the 43-foot cross at the top of Mount Soledad must be removed in 90 days because it violates the separation of church and state. Although Burns is open to putting the removal on hold if there is a substantial appeal, he remains committed to upholding the 2011 U.S. Court of Appeals ruling which stated the cross violated the constitution.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America and a handful of local residents. The Mount Soledad war memorial has been a focal point in legal hearings for two decades; a judge ordered the memorial to be taken down as far back as 1991, but Burns said in his ruling that it’s “time for finality” in the matter.
“We support the government paying tribute to those who served bravely in our country’s armed forces,” said Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. “But we should honor all of our heroes under one flag, not just one particular religious symbol.”
But despite another ruling ordering that the cross be taken down, advocates of the war memorial say they have no plans to do so and will take this all the way to the Supreme Court. “Unless the U.S. Supreme Court denies review or takes it and finds it unconstitutional, that cross isn’t going anywhere,” said Charles LiMandri, an attorney for the Mount Soledad Memorial Association. “At that point, we’ll go to Congress. We’re not giving up.”