Mt. Soledad’s Mounting Controversy, Part II

Photo Credit: wcvarones.comThe prominent white cross on Mt. Soledad in La Jolla, CA has become a nationwide talking point and a controversial religious symbol. Click here if you would like to read Part I of our Mt. Soledad series, which covers its history through the 1900s.

This blog post will enlighten you on the more recent legal battles and what the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association plans on doing in an attempt to keep the cross in place.

  • 2004 – After a series of appeals, the Mount Soledad Presbyterian Church, a local La Jolla church, agreed to keep the cross if the judge ordered it to be removed once and for all. At that time multiple parties, including the MSMA, agreed that moving the cross to the church and placing a nonsectarian symbol in its place at the memorial was the best option. The city council instead attempted to get voters to approve a third sale of the land, which they denied.
  • 2006 – After multiple attempts to sell or transfer the land, and the appeals that followed, Judge Thompson said the cross must be removed within 90 days or a fine will be issued. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals deniedSan Diego’s third challenge. The city responds by appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2006 a bill was passed and signed by President Bush declaring the memorial sight as protected federal property. Days later the ACLU, Jewish War Veterans and several individuals filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Government, stating that the presence of the cross violated separation of church and state.
  • 2008 – After ACLU asked the court to reconsider if a cross on federal land was constitutional, a court case was held in 2008 with the government coming out on top. ACLU appealed the decision.
  • 2011 – The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, once again, that the cross violated the 1st Amendment and that it must be removed.
  • 2013 – After a couple more years of back and forth legal battles and appeals, and the Supreme Court’s rejection to hear the appeal, the trial went back to court in December. Left with little choice, Judge Larry Burns ordered the cross to be removed within 90 days but put the order on hold since another appeal is expected.

So, what now?  Since Judge Burns stayed the case, the MSMA has time to file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, hoping that this time they will hear the case. Many from both sides of the argument, regardless of what La Jolla religious organization they associate with, are optimistic that the Supreme Court will take the case due to the controversy surrounding this 20-year-long legal entanglement and the desire for finality.

What do you think: Should the Mt. Soledad cross stay at the memorial site in La Jolla, CA or should it be removed?

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Vanessa Turkeltaub
Vanessa Turkeltaub graduated from UC San Diego with a BA in Communication. She has been with Blue Book Publishers for over 5 years, and has written over five-hundred La Jolla related articles. She enjoys going to concerts, art, and traveling. (

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