by Peter Grady –
In asking the Supreme Court to intervene in a case over a war memorial, a legal group says if atheists prevail then no war memorial will be safe.
The issue involves the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross in San Diego which was erected over 50 years ago to honor soldiers who gave their lives in war.
The ACLU filed suit against the cross saying they are opposed to the government “endorsing, promoting, or financing religious symbols.” The organization says the cross should be removed and removed to a “religious site.”
The issue has been in and out of the courts since 1989. In 1994 in an attempt to resolve the issue, the city attempted to sell the land to the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association, which was authorized by the city to erect and maintain the cross when it was first installed in 1952.
The federal courts invalidated the sale because it was intended to save the cross “from removal and/or destruction.”
Eventually the land was transferred to the federal government to maintain the cross. A federal district court upheld the government’s display of the cross in 2008. Last year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision and ordered the cross be removed.
The Ninth Circuit also ordered the removal of a cross honoring World War I veterans in the Mojave Desert. In a 5-4 ruling the United States Supreme Court stated the cross could remain.
The cross was in a remote area and was challenged after a single park employee said he was offended at seeing it on public land.
Liberty Institute has asked the Supreme Court to also save the Mt. Soledad cross. Kelly Shackelford with the organization says it is vital that the high court turn back the attempt by the ACLU to destroy the cross.
“If this 29-foot cross here is unconstitutional, then there’s a 24-foot cross in Arlington Memorial Cemetery. Additionally, there’s the Argonne Cross and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier that says ‘known but to God.’ There are literally crosses and Stars of David in every community of every state, and they would all be torn down or sandblasted off.”
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