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SCOTUS Declines to Review Lower Court Decision Calling Mt. Soledad Cross Unconstitutional

Supporters of the cross also unsuccessfully appealed to the Supreme Court in 2012.

SCOTUS Declines to Review Lower Court Decision Calling Mt. Soledad Cross Unconstitutional

The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to immediately review a lower court's decision regarding the constitutionality of the cross atop Mt. Soledad in La Jolla.

The 43-foot-tall monument and pedestal has been challenged in court for about 25 years. Opponents contend the cross is an endorsement of a particular religion, while supporters say it is a war memorial.

The federal government obtained the title to the cross and its surrounding property by eminent domain and declared it to be a national war memorial in 2006.

In 2011, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the cross violates the U.S. Constitution's establishment clause and ordered the case returned to district court for disposition. U.S. District Judge Larry Burns in December issued his order in response to that decision, stating the cross be removed in 90 days, but he issued a stay until appeals are exhausted.

Lawyers for the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association then filed a petition to send the long-running court battle directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, but in light of the stay, the Supreme Court chose to await the final decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote that a judicial review by the nation's highest court was not yet warranted because "no final judgement has been rendered and it remains unclear precisely what action the Federal Government will be required to take."

Supporters of the cross also unsuccessfully appealed to the Supreme Court in 2012.

Lawyer Charles LiMandri told reporters he was confident the Supreme Court would eventually hear the case after the appellate court issued a final decision, but that could take two to three years.

"The important thing is to remember though is the cross is not going anywhere -- not now, and we believe not ever," LiMandri said.

—City News Service

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