The U.S. Supreme Court will not consider the case of the Mount Soledad Cross.
The long-standing controversy involves a 29-foot cross erected on public land on a hilltop overlooking La Jolla and the Pacific Ocean.
More than a year ago, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to rehear the case of a war memorial cross in a public park in San Diego that was deemed unconstitutional.
A group trying to preserve the cross as a memorial to military veterans appealed to the Supreme Court.
However, on Monday, it became clear the Supreme Court would not take up the issue.
“I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has decided not to hear our case considering the number of religious symbols that exist on government properties throughout the country; most notably the ones displayed in the House of Representatives,” said Rep. Brian Bilbray.
“I intend to work with my colleagues to promote religious tolerance and find a way to defend this beloved Memorial that has served as a symbol of sacrifice for San Diego’s veterans for nearly 100 years.”
The American Civil Liberties Union has been fighting to get the cross removed, saying it is a religious symbol on government land.
The legal fight over the Mount Soledad cross began in 1989 when atheist Philip Paulson sued the city of San Diego. Paulson, a Vietnam War veteran, contended that the cross excludes veterans who aren't Christian. A Jewish war veterans group has also been a plaintiff in the case along with the ACLU.
State and federal judges ordered the cross removed, saying it represents an unconstitutional endorsement of one religion. But in 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked an order that the city take it down that summer, giving lower courts time to hear appeals.
City officials have argued that the cross is part of a secular war memorial, and the cross has been embraced by San Diego residents who in 2005 overwhelmingly approved a measure to preserve it by donating it to the federal government, although the courts said that did not protect it from the constitutional dispute.