.- The City of San Diego is no longer required to remove the Mt. Soledad Cross, according to a ruling by a panel of appeals court judges. Seventeen years ago, atheist Philip Paulson filed a lawsuit against the city and demanded that the cross be removed.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided on Jan. 12 to vacate the district court’s order. The case was judged moot because the municipality no longer owns the land on which the cross stands.
Last August, President George W. Bush signed a Congressional Act that immediately transferred all title and interest of the cross and property to the federal government for its use as a national war memorial honoring U.S. veterans.
A citizens’ organization, called San Diegans for the Mt. Soledad National War Memorial, had spearheaded the successful referendary petition drive to transfer the memorial property to the federal government. Seventy-six percent of voters were in favor of transferring the property to the federal government.
Following the Congressional Act, the Thomas More Law Center filed a motion with the Ninth Circuit appeals court to “dismiss and vacate” the lower court ruling since the property no longer belonged to the City of San Diego. The Ninth Circuit agreed with the Law Center’s argument.
“We welcome this ruling,” said Richard Thompson, president of the Law Center. However, he noted that the battle to save veterans memorial is not over. ACLU filed a new lawsuit, this time against the federal government, to remove the cross.
“We must now turn our resources toward defeating them again. We are committed to that task,” said Thompson.
Over the past two years, the Law Center has represented the citizens’ group in favor preserving the cross without charge.
For more on the Thomas More Law Center, go to: www.thomasmore.org.