The American Civil Liberties Union and the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America took issue with a cross erected on a San Diego mountain in 1954 honoring veterans of the Korean War.
After decades of battling the separation of church and state in court, the memorial’s Christian defenders are not ready to give up and will try taking the case to the Supreme Court.
The cross was erected in 1954 in honor of Korean War veterans and has been the subject of near constant judicial back and forth since 1989, when two Vietnam War veterans filed suit saying it violated the California Constitution’s “No Preference” clause.
Since the first lawsuit in 1989, the city of San Diego twice tried selling the property beneath the cross to the Mount Soledad Memorial Association, only to be stopped by the courts.
In 2004, the parties involved reached an agreement that would have moved the cross to a nearby church, but two congressmen intervened and inserted a rider into the 2005 omnibus budget bill that designated the property a national veterans memorial and authorized the federal government to accept the donation of the property.
This led to more fights and more court filings.
In 2006, three congressmen pushed through a bill calling for the government to seize the property by eminent domain — calling it “a historically significant war memorial.” The federal government took possession in August of that year.
A lawsuit was filed challenging that transfer almost immediately and that has led to Thursday’s ruling.
Advocates of Christian public displays have a tougher battle in the San Diego case as a result of the aforementioned no preference clause. That clause, part of the California state constitution (Art. 1, Sec. 4), reads:
Free exercise and enjoyment of religion without discrimination or preference are guaranteed.
If the case is not taken up by the Supreme Court, the issue will likely be taken to Congress. Although secularists have won this battle, the war is far from over.