The citizens of San Diego have voted to keep a 1954 war memorial that includes a 43-ft concrete cross. More than 75 percent of Tuesday’s votes were in favor of keeping the cross rather than donating the cross and memorial to the federal government as a national war memorial.
The vote was called after a 15-year battle. In 1989, an atheist filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Mt. Soledad Cross because it was located on public property.
After successive yet adverse court rulings, city council decisions, and a local war memorial associations agreement to settle the case by removing the cross, a state judge ruled last week that a vote must be called on the issue. The judgment required a two-thirds vote to keep the cross.
The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, played an instrumental role in getting the issue to a ballot vote. Its work was the basis for a federal law that declared the site as a National War Memorial and authorized the federal government to receive a donation of the land on which the cross and memorial stood.
Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, was pleased with the results but he warned: “The other side has not surrendered; court battles over the cross continue.”
Two court dates are scheduled next month. A federal judge will hear arguments over the cross Aug. 15, and a state Superior Court judge will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the ballot measure Aug. 12.