Judge orders San
Diego cross removed
Gives city 90 days in case
brought by ACLU-backed atheist
Posted: May 3, 2006
© 2006 WorldNetDaily.com
Ruling on a
15-year-old ACLU case, a federal judge today ordered
the city of San Diego to remove a mountain-top cross
within 90 days or face a fine of $5,000 a day.
U.S. District Judge
Gordon Thompson said, "It is now time, and perhaps
long overdue, for this court to enforce its initial
permanent injunction forbidding the presence of the
Mount Soledad cross on city property," the San Diego
Thompson ruled in
1991 the Mount Soledad cross violates the so-called
"separation of church and state" but the case has
remained in courts and become an issue of public
policy for more than a decade.
ACLU lawyer James
McElroy believes San Diego officials finally will
give up their fight.
"I don't think the
city has its heart in taking more action," he said,
according to the paper.
A city lawyer argued
during the hour-long court hearing today that
citizens had voted for transfer of the land under
passed by 75 percent in July, called for the city to
donate the cross to the federal government as the
centerpiece of a veterans memorial.
initiative came about after the city refused to
donate the cross and memorial to the federal
government. A group called San Diegans for the Mount
Soledad National War Memorial took just 23 days to
gather 105,000 signatures.
In a ruling now on
appeal, however, a Superior Court judge found the
said the group behind the public vote on transfer
likely will appeal Thompson's decision.
The 29-foot cross
has stood on Mount Soledad as the center of a war
memorial on city land since 1954. The first cross on
the site was built in 1913.
A bill authorizing
the federal government to take over the memorial was
authored by Republican U.S. Reps. Duncan Hunter and
Randy Cunningham. President Bush signed the bill
into law in December.
today's ruling, Mayor Jerry Sanders said he would
recommend the city council and city attorney take
action to save the cross.
The battle began in
1989 when Phillip Paulsen, an atheist, filed suit,
and a court ordered the city to remove the cross. In
1998, the city sold the property to the Mt. Soledad
War Memorial Association, which again was challenged
in court. The sale originally was upheld but later
ruled unconstitutional by the full panel of the 9th
Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco and
remanded back to district court to work out a
During its brief
period of ownership, the Memorial Association made
significant improvements, including extensive
landscaping and the addition of more than 3,000
plaques honoring military veterans