Judge Rules That Mt. Soledad Cross Must Come Down Within 90 Days

It’s been the longest-running Establishment Clause case in American history and it’s still being debated more than 23 years later.

It involves the Mount Soledad cross in San Diego — a huge cross on public land erected in 1954. After the now-deceased Philip Paulson challenged the cross’ constitutionality more than two decades ago and after atheist Steve Trunk took up the case a few years ago, atheists have generally prevailed in the court system. Last year, the Supreme Court declined to hear any more challenges from Christian groups, putting the future of the cross back in the hands of lower courts.

Steve Trunk, in front of the Mt. Soledad Cross

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Larry Burns ordered the cross to come down from the mountain within 90 days… which sounds great until you realize the Christian side will appeal, further delaying the inevitable. Burns actually ruled in 2008 that the cross should stay put, but the Appeals court above him overturned his decision. With that in mind, Burns said there was no way the cross could still stay:

… In the end, Burns said he felt his hands were tied and there was little room to maneuver around the 9th Circuit’s ruling of unconstitutionality.

“Deliberate language in the opinion makes it clear that removal of the large, historic cross is the only remedy that the Ninth Circuit conceives will cure the constitutional violation,” Burns wrote in his ruling.

The cross will eventually come down. There’s just no legal way to justify a giant Christian symbol on federal property. But Christian groups argue this is all about what the veterans want. Well, the veterans fought for our freedom, and that includes preventing an establishment of religion by the government.

The fight ended a long time ago. Now, it’s on life support. Can Christian groups just pull the plug already?

(Thanks to Frank for the link)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • wallofseparation

    Guys, these battles are far from over…just read the comment section of this same story here…

    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/12/12/Famous-Cross-Ordered-Removed-from-Memorial-Fed-Judge-Emotional

  • valerie

    you bet it is far from over….

  • $925105

    That thing is still up? Sheesh, how many decades has this been going on now?

  • Erik Jensen

    The fight will not end any time soon. Politicians love to use issues like these to rally support. Groups like the ACLJ and the Liberty Institute use it to raise money. It’s like the abortion debate; they almost always lose in court, but they win at fundraising.

  • kickinitincrik

    It seems that many atheists have a Pharisaical approach to the separation of church and state. I’m curious, do ya’ll believe that an absolute separation of church and state is possible?

  • Guest

    Given that a government is run by people, all of whom will have their own positions on religion, no, certainly not absolute. But religious iconography on government land is still inappropriate, as it gives the impression that that particular belief is given a government seal of approval over others. (In the case of multiple monuments, it would just be that belief is given the seal of approval over nonbelief.)

  • Randay

    Years ago a nearby church offered to transfer the cross to its property, but the die-hards refused the offer and continued to waste time and taxpayers money to keep it illegally on government property.

  • skinnercitycyclist

    They did that here in Eugene about ten or fifteen years ago. There had been a big lighted cross on Skinner’s Butte downtown for decades, right where they used to hold Klan rallies in the ’20’s. Once people began seriously complaining, supporters of the cross tried to claim it was a veterans’ memorial, which did not wash.

    Once the cross was down, and moved to a bible college which looms over the hills above my house to this day, the former supporters placed a city ballot initiative that mandated a huge (think used-car-lot-huge) American flag on the site, advertised as a thumb in the eye of the liberal atheists who had insisted on the removal of the cross. It passed and was greeted with an outraged “meh” and general shrugging of shoulders by the opponents of the cross.

  • skinnercitycyclist

    Everybody I was in the army with in the early ’80’s was there to get money for college or because they could not get a job in the civilian economy. We were pro-freedom in the sense that we could not WAIT to get out of the army and become free men and women again. We were available for freedom-fighting, of course, though that would have taken the form of an all-out war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, in my case.

  • Neko

    This cross should go on purely aesthetic grounds. It’s godawful.

  • $24533877

    So is your taste.

  • Neko

    Oh but you’re wrong! I have very good taste. It’s my only virtue.

  • randomfactor

    Been doing that on a San Diego site. Pointing out that majority does NOT rule in civil rights cases, that separation of church and state is a real thing, and that it protects THEM too.

  • http://joannevalentinesimson.wordpress.com/ ValPas

    I just think it’s pathetic that people are fighting over this kind of stuff. Can’t we spend our money on something better than tearing down a monument/cross that’s been there half a century and is really rather artistic. What if that were a statue of Buddha? Would that have to be blown up (like the Taliban did in Afghanistan?) There should be some eminent domain type of consideration for large public objects that have been around for awhile. There are a lot of ugly public sculptures that might be better candidates for demolition, if you’re in a destructive mood.

  • Neko

    You raise a good point that I consider whenever one of these cases come up. Personally I think the Mt . Soledad cross is undistinguished, and it’s obviously in violation of the 1st, but I don’t live in San Diego, and I don’t know whether the public has any affection for it. You think of it as an art object as well as a religious monument that merits historic preservation. Is that a common sentiment among residents?