The cross on Mount Soledad can stay - for now

The decadeslong battle over a cross erected on public land in California will drag out even longer now that the Supreme Court declined Monday to hear the case.

In the last full day of the current session, the court said the case must first go to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals before the high court will consider it.

The conflict in Mount Soledad Memorial Association vs. Trunk is over a 43-foot cross that sits atop Mount Soledad on public land in San Diego. The cross was erected in the 1950s and has since become a veterans' memorial.

A veterans group that maintains the cross asked the Supreme Court to let it leapfrog over the 9th Circuit after a lower federal court ruled last December that the cross should come down.

But Justice Samuel Alito, who also issued two majority decisions for the court Monday, said the Supreme Court would wait for another ruling in this case.

We say: Charlottesville reveals the weeping wound of racism. What do we, the American Catholic faith community, do next? Read the editorial.

"The Court of Appeals has not yet reviewed [the lower court's decision] on appeal," Alito wrote. "Any review by this Court can await the decision of the Court of Appeals."

The Mount Soledad cross has a long history of legal wrangling. The first challenge came in 1989, before the land surrounding it became a veterans' memorial.

In December, a federal court in San Diego ruled the cross should come down because it violates the First Amendment's Establishment Clause and promotes one religion -- Christianity -- over others. But the same court granted a stay, allowing the cross to remain until the veterans had a chance to appeal.

The decision by the Supreme Court to send the case back to a lower court could mean the case will last at least another two to three years.

Support independent reporting on important issues.

 One family graphic_2016_250x103.jpg

Show comments

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

Commenting is available during business hours, Central time, USA. Commenting is not available in the evenings, over weekends and on holidays. More details are available here. Comments are open on NCR's Facebook page.