Philip Paulson, a local atheist has been engaged in battle to have the 43-foot high cross taken down since 1989, citing personal offense at its inclusion in a war memorial built in 1954 honoring veterans of the Korean War.
In May, a federal judge sided with him, and ordered the cross removed based on conflicts with separation of church and state. The ACLU has also backed Paulson.
Charles LiMandri, west coast director of the Thomas More Law Center, which has been actively fighting Paulson, said that “This case is one that should concern all Americans. It is a direct attack on our national heritage, and it is an attack that is occurring on our own soil. The ACLU and its minions, with the help of activist judges, seek to destroy what our Founding Fathers created-One Nation Under God.”
The new bi-partisan bill would transfer control of the memorial from the city to the U.S. Department of Defense, thus halting a court order to remove the cross. The bill now moves on to the Senate.
"This legislative victory represents another front in the battle to keep the Mt. Soledad cross in place," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, which is also helping defend the cross.
"With the Supreme Court stepping in to put the court-ordered removal of the cross on hold -- it is clear that there are vital legal issues that must be litigated," said Sekulow, according to CNS News. "At the end of the day, whether the solution comes legislatively or judicially, we believe the Mt. Soledad cross will remain in place -- a very visible symbol of our commitment to honoring the men and women who gave their lives for our freedoms."
Bill 5863 passed the House overwhelmingly in a vote of 349-74.
.- On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a hard-fought bill which could save a war memorial which overlooks the city of San Diego from nearby Mount Soledad and features a large Latin-style cross.