The long legal dispute over a cross on top of Mt. Soledad in La Jolla.
Created by MeganBurke on Dec 13, 2013
Last updated: 12/16/13 at 09:15 AM
A federal judge ruled that the cross on Mt Soledad in Jolla is unconstitutional and should be removed.
The American Civil Liberties Union says a veterans' organization should have no say in legal talks over how to modify a war memorial cross that is located on federal land.
The U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to review whether the cross on top of Mt. Soledad is unconstitutional means the case will come back to a lower court.
The fight to save the cross on Mount Soledad in La Jolla is being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, after a ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court last year declared the cross unconstitutional.
A federal appeals court ruled the cross atop Mount Soledad is unconstitutional, but the ruling stopped short of ordering the landmark to be taken down.
San Diego Judge Larry Burns said in his ruling, "The court finds the memorial at Mt. Soledad, including its Latin cross, communicates the primarily nonreligious messages of military service, death and sacrifice."
Source: Los Angeles Times, July 31, 2008
President George W. Bush signed legislation in the Oval Office to annex the land under the Mt. Soledad cross, and put it under the control of the Federal Department of Defense. This shifts the legal battle over whether the cross violates the separation of church and state from the state to the federal level.
In June 2006 Congress passed a bill to transfer the land where the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial sits to the United States government.
Superior Court Judge Patricia Cowett rules Proposition A is unconstitutional.
Cowett said, “Maintenance of this Latin Cross as it is on the property in question, is found to be an unconstitutional preference of religion in violation of Article I, Section 4, of the California Constitution, and the transfer of the memorial with the cross as its centerpiece to the federal government to save the cross as it is, where it is, is an unconstitutional aid to religion in violation of Article XVI, Section 5, of the California Constitution.”
Source: Voice of San Diego, October 7, 2005
San Diego voters overwhelming approve a ballot measure that would donate the land under the Mt Soledad cross and memorial to the federal government to use as a national memorial honoring veterans.
A panel of judges from the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court rules selling the land on Mt Soledad containing the cross to a private group violates the state constitution because it would amount to government aid to religion.
Source: Metropolitan News Enterprise, June 27, 2002
The majority of San Diego voters approved Proposition F. The ballot measure allowed the city to sell a 22-acre parcel of land on Mt. Soledad to the Mt Soledad Memorial Association.
The U.S. Supreme Court turned down an emergency bid by the city of San Diego to postpone a March 3 deadline for destroying the giant cross atop Mt. Soledad, increasing the odds that it--and another huge cross atop Mt. Helix--will be toppled in two weeks.
Two Vietnam veterans sued the City of San Diego to remove the Mt Soledad cross from city land.
Source: Glen Smith, California Western School of Law.
The San Diego chapter of American Atheists says it will sue the city over a recent city attorney's opinion that crosses on Mt. Soledad, in La Jolla, and in Presidio Park, near Old Town, do not violate the Constitution's separation of church and state.
San Diego City Attorney John Witt issues a legal opinion that, "neither the cross on Mt. Soledad nor in Presidio Park
violates the tests promulgated by the U.S. Supreme Court; the purpose of each is secular, the primary effect neither advances nor inhibits religion and neither cross fosters an excessive entanglement by government with religion. Therefore, the City is not violating either the Federal or California Constitutions by allowing the crosses to remain."
Angered by an atheist group's crusade to remove three massive crosses from public property, some San Diego ministers, politicians and advocacy groups have formed a coalition to fight for the towering monuments.
Source: Los Angeles Times, November 19, 1988
On November 6, 1988 Stephen Thorne, a member of the San Diego chapter of the American Atheists organization sent a letter to the city and county of San Diego asking that the Mt Soledad cross be removed.
In the letter Thorne noted provisions in the U.S. Constitution for the separation of church and state.
In the letter, Thorne went on to say, "These Christian symbols and displays on (public) land clearly violate those constitutional provisions."
A 43-foot 24 ton cross was dedicated on Easter Sunday 1954. The cross was built with funds raised by the Mt Soledad Memorial Association. The cross was dedicated to the memories of those killed during the first and second world wars and the Korean war.
Source: San Diego Union, April 17, 1954
Members of the La Jolla Legion built a temporary cross to stand on Mt Soledad.
Source: San Diego Union, April 11, 1952
The Mt Soledad cross was blown down by wind in late February 1952. A temporary cross was erected in its place until fund could be raised to build a permanent cross.
Source: San Diego Union, March 31, 1952
The redwood cross erected on Mt Soledad in 1913 was stolen in 1922. A replacement cross built using wire and stucco stood on the site until it was blown down by strong winds in February 1952.
Source: Los Angeles Times, March 22, 1952
The original cross on Mt. Soledad was erected in 1913 by private citizens of La Jolla and Pacific Beach.