The 29-foot cross atop Mount Soledad, which has been in place since 1954, was contested by Philip Paulson, a Vietnam veteran and atheist.
A lower court judge had declared the cross was an unconstitutional endorsement of one religion over another and ordered the city of San Diego to remove the cross by Aug. 1 or be fined $5,000 a day.
The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Mich., had filed the emergency application in the Supreme Court June 29, asking for the stay. The Center filed the application on behalf of San Diegans for the Mt. Soledad National War Memorial, arguing that the people wanted to avoid the "destruction of this national treasure."
Attorneys for the city said the cross was part of a broader memorial that was important to the community. According to the AP, Mayor Jerry Sanders also argued that the cross is an integral part of the national memorial and deserves the same exemptions to government-maintained religious symbols as those granted to other war monuments.
It is unclear how long the stay will remain in effect.
.- The Supreme Court intervened Monday to stay the removal of a large cross from San Diego property, reported the Associated Press.