In 1989, a group of atheists sued the city of San Diego. That led to 25 years of litigation. Congress intervened in 2006, and the federal government took over the property. Then, another group of plaintiffs sued again, saying it was a violation of the First Amendment for a religious symbol to be displayed on federal land.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the cross was a government endorsement of religion and must come down. The Mount Soledad Memorial Association appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to take the case, and a federal judge said the previous ruling had to stand.
The ACLU claimed this was a “victory for religious liberty,” but it certainly was not. The cross is a historic landmark that has had decades of popular support from the people of San Diego, who at one point voted to turn the memorial over to a private organization in order to keep the cross standing. This solution, of course, didn’t satisfy the atheists. The memorial is not exclusively Christian; it is surrounded by secular symbols and symbols of other religions, including 18 Jewish stars of David. It’s hard to see how this famous monument violates anyone’s rights.
The cross is supposed to come down soon, but the federal judge left the door open for an appeal. If the Supreme Court takes the case, there’s still one chance for good sense to prevail.
Listen to the radio commentary here: