Judge Orders Removal of Mt. Soledad Cross

The order states the cross must be moved within 90 days, unless there's an appeal, which could delay the process

The controversial cross on Mt. Soledad was deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge in San Diego on Thursday, meaning the cross could come down within the next few months.

A federal judge issued an order declaring the 43-foot Latin cross violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution and unlawfully endorses one religion over others.

The cross, part of the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial, was challenged in 2006 lawsuit by the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America and several local residents, all represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.

In 2011, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the cross violated the First Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, and it was sent back to federal court in San Diego, where Thursday’s order was issued.

The order states the cross must be moved within 90 days. If there's an appeal on that ruling, the process could be delayed. Read the full ruling here.

“We support the government paying tribute to those who served bravely in our country’s armed forces,” said Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, in a press release Thursday. “But we should honor all of our heroes under one flag, not just one particular religious symbol.”

“A national war memorial should stand for all of those who served,” said Norma Chavez-Peterson, executive director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, in a press release. “It is inappropriate and unconstitutional to declare a deeply religious symbol that excludes those outside of that faith as a monument to all veterans.”

The cross was erected in La Jolla in 1954 and dedicated at an Easter Sunday ceremony in which the monument was described as “a gleaming white symbol of Christianity,” according to the ACLU.

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