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Federal Judge Orders Removal Of Mt. Soledad Cross

Above: View of the Mount Soledad Cross and Veterans Memorial.

The long dispute over a cross on top of Mt. Soledad in La Jolla could finally to be coming to an end. A federal judge ruled Thursday that the cross is unconstitutional and should be removed.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2011 that the cross violated the First Amendment. In June 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal to that decision, so the cross case was kicked back to a district court. That court ruled today that the 43-foot cross must go.

The federal display was challenged in a 2006 lawsuit by the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America and several local residents, all of whom were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial counties.

The ACLU is celebrating the court's decision as a big win.

Jeff Wergeles, deputy director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, said they aren't sure yet whether the case can finally close, but are hopeful the cross will now have to come down.

"This country was founded on the freedom of religion. A basic American value is that the government does not get involved in religion, and this cross is clearly a religious symbol," Wergeles said.

The cross was erected in 1954 and was dedicated at an Easter Sunday ceremony describing the monument as a "gleaming white symbol of Christianity.''

In 2006, the federal government, through an act of Congress, obtained the title to the cross and its surrounding property by eminent domain, and declared the cross to be a national war memorial.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Gilbertfield'

Gilbertfield | December 12, 2013 at 3:12 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

The cross on Mount Soledad was placed there originally as a religious symbol (and as a threat to Jews and others to stay out of La Jolla).

When it's appropriateness was finally questioned, it was wrapped inside a so-called "Veterans Memorial" to protect it from court removal.

It should be removed and be replaced with an enormous US flag if it is still a true veterans memorial.

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Avatar for user 'NOCaSOCa'

NOCaSOCa | December 12, 2013 at 4:11 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

I also hope an enormous flag replaces the cross. Or, something that stands out and represents all of the veterans who were so selfless to have given up their lives for us.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | December 12, 2013 at 4:28 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

YES! Finally we will see respect for the separation of church and state and hopefully the land will be returned to the City of San Diego where it rightfully belongs.

Gilbertfield,

The US government ignored the Constitution and did everything it could to unjustly keep the cross up for years causing so much pain and expense for San Diegans. The last thing we want to see is a US flag there.

Perhaps a Californian flag should be flown upon Mt. Soledad as this victory over religious dominance probably wouldn't have happened in any other state.

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Avatar for user 'philosopher3000'

philosopher3000 | December 12, 2013 at 5:22 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

Thank God!

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Avatar for user 'McBearsNY'

McBearsNY | December 12, 2013 at 5:24 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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Avatar for user 'rbob'

rbob | December 12, 2013 at 8:06 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

We could replace it with a picture of Mohamed or a bronze statue of the Koran.
Since we don't want to bow down to the all mighty God, I am sure Allah is taking application.
Fools...

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Avatar for user 'COEnygaard'

COEnygaard | December 12, 2013 at 10:41 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

"Fools.." Interesting attempt at calling anyone supporting the removal of the cross. Muslim, or lets cut straight to it a terrorist.

I would say that any religious symbol placed here would have received similar complaints. This is a potential step towards diplomacy supporting the ideals of people not one organization.

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Avatar for user 'x76'

x76 | December 13, 2013 at 5:44 a.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

Leave it alone.

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Avatar for user 'unionSoldier1864NY'

unionSoldier1864NY | December 13, 2013 at 7:14 a.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | December 13, 2013 at 8:41 a.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

People are such crybabies.

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Avatar for user 'Eddie89'

Eddie89 | December 13, 2013 at 8:51 a.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

"Oorah"! It's about time!

There can be no freedom OF religion, without having freedom FROM religion in "government".

Instead of this ancient Roman torture/execution device, they should put up something useful like benches for people to sit and think about life. Not because of some fictitious deity, but because of the actual blood and real lives given by these people during these conflicts.

I know, how about a giant "peace" symbol!

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Avatar for user 'Sherman_Heights'

Sherman_Heights | December 13, 2013 at 9:42 a.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

Has there been any consideration to modifying the cross by removing it's arms so it become an obelisk of sorts? I like the idea of something visible on top of the mountain but without the religious connotation.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | December 13, 2013 at 12:51 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

The Cross "caused pain," CHRISTIANITY OFFEN--err--I mean, CA OFFENDER? Can't wait to hear this verbal backward somersault!

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | December 13, 2013 at 12:53 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

R bob, your post demonstrates your ignorance. Moslems are not very big on pictorial representations and what you suggest would be conisidered sacrilegous to them anyway. But what they have to do with this debat is beyond me.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | December 13, 2013 at 1 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

Eddie KNOWS for sure.

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Avatar for user 'unionSoldier1864NY'

unionSoldier1864NY | December 13, 2013 at 1:35 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

its Christian land--the city itself is named after an indigenous Mexican peasant saint and was established by missionaries from Spain, the land is %100 Christian and %100 Mexican

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Avatar for user 'Alex_Grebenshchikov'

Alex_Grebenshchikov | December 13, 2013 at 2:24 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

The people complaining want to be mollycoddled by the government. I can't understand why anyone would be so offended. I personally do not want a government to step in and make sure I don't get my feelings hurt, I just want the government to protect my life from foreign invaders and leave me alone as much as possible. Our society has become so unbelievably soft, weak, easily offended and dependent on the government that we should all be ashamed for letting things get this bad. How embarrassing.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | December 13, 2013 at 2:26 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

Missionfailed,

Pain doesn't just mean physical. Pain can be felt mentally and emotionally and the Mt. Soledad cross certainly has caused that to many people for many decades.

Oh, and I've never done a backward somersault. Since you're an Olympic champ at it, can you show me how it's done again?

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Avatar for user 'mySDvoice'

mySDvoice | December 13, 2013 at 3:38 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

unionSoldier1846NY - Really? This land is 100% Christian and 100% Mexican? Maybe you do not think this land existed before Columbus, you know, when the world was still flat. The native Americans have occupied the lands we call home for hundreds of more years than us recent transplants..

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | December 13, 2013 at 3:55 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

unionSoldier1864NY,

By your logic, if Spanish missionaries founded San Diego, wouldn't that mean it is 100% Spanish, not Mexican?

Let's also consider San Diego by time of control:

10,000 years: Native Americans
279 years: Spain
165 years: US
25 years: Mexico

Looks pretty clear to me.

By the way yankee, San Diego strongly supported the Confederacy. Just FYI.

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Avatar for user 'unionSoldier1864NY'

unionSoldier1864NY | December 13, 2013 at 4:12 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

I don't understand your logic CaliforniaDefender----the majority of Mexicans do consider themselves indigenous native americans so what are you talking about

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Avatar for user 'quicktocomment'

quicktocomment | December 13, 2013 at 4:29 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

Good. It shouldn't have been there to begin with.

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Avatar for user 'PanchoVilla3000'

PanchoVilla3000 | December 13, 2013 at 4:35 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

to mySDvoice---Mexicans did not come here with Columbus moron

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Avatar for user 'LatinBoy'

LatinBoy | December 13, 2013 at 4:44 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

California is mexico la tierra de mi sangre

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | December 13, 2013 at 4:54 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

Yankee,

But they're not indigenous. Most Mexicans are of Spaniard ancestry and a little Aztec (who were never in California). Sadly, Mexico has waged a brutal war against their indigenous population that continues to this day.

The 20,000 who belong to the tribes of San Diego that have lived here for countless generations are the only indigenous people.

Back on topic, the cross that was kept up by the US government is finally coming down.
It belongs in a museum or church, not on public land.

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Avatar for user 'livenletlive'

livenletlive | December 15, 2013 at 10:42 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

If the ACLU and the jews are so zealous about this issue as the Homeless problem in San Diego, there wouldn't be a Homeless problem here. GET A LIFE! Oh BTW, when these jewish veterans took an oath when they signed up didn't they swear on their heart "For God and Country" which was founded on Christian beliefs? I guess they at the time they forgot about Moses, Abraham, David etc, etc.

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Avatar for user 'chargersguy'

chargersguy | December 16, 2013 at 8:25 a.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

calidefender sure I see the 20k Indians of san diego whenever I take a stroll they are on almost every street corner did u see the pure san diego Indians in balboa park, what I saw was bearded Indians (pure native americans have no facial hair), Jamaicans plus plenty of faces that would fit in perfectly at a st patricks day parade

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Avatar for user 'imominous'

imominous | December 16, 2013 at 10:47 a.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

Fallen soldiers in the field were remembered by their helmets on their rifles. Maybe they could lop off the arms and put a metal helmet sculpture on top to represent that?

I was up there yesterday evening, and met two veteran atheists who, like me, do not wish to be used in this way so Christians can keep their symbol looming over everything.

Everyone else at the cross was there for the sunset, not redemption.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | December 16, 2013 at 12:27 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

CA Offender, the cross "caused pain to San Diegans."

What an asinine remark. So non-Christians have felt emotional and mental (?) just for having this structure there??? Where were these "pained" people in 1954 when it was first erected??? Maybe rethink your posting next time?

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | December 16, 2013 at 12:31 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

CA OFFENDER, IF San Diego "supported" the Confederacy, then it would have been an act of sedition. And which San Diego? The mayor at the time? Or did they take a survey? Please cite non-internet source.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | December 16, 2013 at 12:39 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

CA Offender, fyi, the ONLY time in the last hundred and fifty years or so that Mexici waged a "brutal war" against Mexican Indians was against the Yaquis under Diaz. While Americans waged a truly brutal war, a Mexican Indian had alredy become the first civilian president of the Mexican Republic.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | December 16, 2013 at 12:42 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

Addendum, oh, and Off, nothing comparable to the Jacksonian Indian Removal Act.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | December 16, 2013 at 12:48 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

Live&LetDie, ACLU doesn't handle homeless issues. That's socio-economic, not civil rights. In fact, they are partly to blame (along with St. Ronnie when he was gov), for the mentally ill on the streets.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | December 16, 2013 at 6:35 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

A post blizzard from Missionfailed. Yay! What fun.

1. You clearly have no concept of the issue if you dismiss emotional pain so casually. People who felt that way existed in 1954, but the legal system at the time gave them no consideration. But our society has evolved since then and now the legal system provides an avenue to challenge violations and occasionally mildly enforces the separation of church and state.

2. Why do you hate the internet so much? If you want to read it in ink here you go: San Diego Historical Society Quarterly, April 1961, Volume 7, Number 1

Plus every historical account ever written about California during the Civil War. Look 'em up yourself. But here's a nice quote to whet your appetite:

“Southern California was so pro-Confederate that they didn’t fly the Stars and Stripes in Los Angeles after the firing on Fort Sumter until troops came in. As for San Diego, a man who dropped by to try to raise money to support the North glumly described it as a “secession-tinged area.” -Historian and Author Glenna Matthews

3. You forgot the Apache-Mexico Wars, Comanche-Mexico Wars, Caste War of Yucatan, and the Chiapas (Zapatista) Conflict that is on going to this day.

4. The effect of the war against Native Americans was the same in both the US and Mexico. Both governments forced their native populations to live marginalized lives on resource-poor reservations or killed them.

Sorry for the long post folks. I hate long posts, too. Blame Missionfailed.

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Avatar for user 'livenletlive'

livenletlive | December 16, 2013 at 8:53 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

If the ACLU and the jews are so zealous about this issue as the Homeless problem in San Diego, there wouldn't be a Homeless problem here. GET A LIFE! Oh BTW, when these jewish veterans took an oath when they signed up didn't they swear on their heart "For God and Country" which was founded on Christian beliefs? I guess they at the time they forgot about Moses, Abraham, David etc, etc.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | December 18, 2013 at 10:10 a.m. ― 9 months ago

CA OFF, please provide source:

"1. You clearly have no concept of the issue if you dismiss emotional pain so casually. People who felt that way existed in 1954, but the legal system at the time gave them no consideration."

There were Confederate symapthizers EVERYWHERE. Even at the Ford Theater. That, however, doesn't mean that whatever state it was necessarily succeeded from the Union. Your point?

Your third point about the Indians in totally inaccurate. Those were short-lived guerrilla wars along the northern Mexican states/southern US territories (NM being territory at the time, etc) AND fought by BOTH by US and Mexican forces. Civilians were attacked. Why? You conveniently forget that for the Apache and the Comanche, your PRECIOUS BORDER was NOT recognized by either people. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Gadsen Purchase, was for the most part, meaningless to them, as the Ambrose Bierce quote of the early 1900s points out. The EZLN rebellion, being the FIRST post Cold War rebellion, would be in a complete category

No, don't blame me. Blame your own sarcasm/ignorance. Again, Mexico never had the equal of a Jacksonian removal act. (CA Off prefers not to talk about this.) USA has yet to have a Native American/Indian president (unlike Mexico); Mexico has never had a mass execution like of the Sioux which Lincoln presided over.

Maybe read Deloria, Hunt Jackson, etc.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | December 18, 2013 at 10:48 a.m. ― 9 months ago

Remember the Alamo!

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | December 19, 2013 at 6:09 p.m. ― 9 months ago

LOL, JM! You've always got the perfect one liner!

Missionfailed,

1. You seriously need evidence that non-Christians were feeling emotional pain from the cross? That isn't obvious? The first cross was put on Mt. Soledad in 1913 and "stolen" in 1923. Replaced later that year it was promptly burned to the ground. Clearly there were people unhappy with the cross being there since the beginning. Plus there is this:

"The cross dominating La Jolla's highest point identified La Jolla as a Christian neighborhood. For many years, Jews were denied opportunity to purchase a home in La Jolla. This was enforced by "The La Jolla Covenant" among all local realtors."
http://www.webcitation.org/5quHDqeST

2. Southern California was prepared to secede and the Pico Act which separated the state in two was approved by the Legislature, the Governor, and the voters (75% yes). However Lincoln completely ignored the will of the people, like usual, and stopped it from coming to a vote in Congress where it likely would have passed.

3. So you consider the multiple massacres of Native Americans by Mexico to be short-lived guerrilla wars? How sad you think so little of their struggle and plight.

4. Lincoln was a bad man and a terrible president. No argument there. It would be very interesting to see a Native American president, but you should never vote for someone solely based on race or ethnicity. We see the terrible result of that today.

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Avatar for user 'thompsonrichard'

thompsonrichard | December 24, 2013 at 9:19 a.m. ― 9 months ago

Livenletlive~ "when these jewish veterans took an oath when they signed up didn't they swear on their heart "For God and Country" which was founded on Christian beliefs?" You repeated yourself, livenletlive. In the US Army it isn't necessary to take an oath, you only need to take one step forward. During the Vietnam era many soldiers were drafted, refused to take the oath, but an FBI agent took them to detention and trial. If they didn't take that step they invariably ended up in Leavenworth or some other federal prison where I doubt the food that is served is kosher. For God and Country isn't part of the oath of office. The first amendment to the Constitution -- which makes it the highest law in the land --says Congress shall make no law favoring the establishment of religion.

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Avatar for user 'thompsonrichard'

thompsonrichard | December 24, 2013 at 9:54 a.m. ― 9 months ago

missionaccomplished~ Abraham Lincoln said he believed the Rev. Thomas Starr King was the person most responsible for keeping California in the Union during the early days of the Civil War.
California’s governor and most members of the state legislature were sympathetic to the Confederacy. The only effective voice against slavery, Sen. David C. Broderick, had been killed in a duel the year before. Abraham Lincoln carried California by only 711 votes. At that time the U.S. Congress was so convinced of a secessionist plot that it required Easterners to secure passports for travel to California. A secret paramilitary California secessionist organization (of about 16,000 members) called themselves the Knights of the Golden Circle.
"I pitched into Secession, Concession and John C. Calhoun, right and left, and made the Southerners applaud," King recalled. "I pledged California to a Northern Republic and to a flag that should have no treacherous threads of cotton in its warp, and the audience came down in thunder."
King covered his pulpit with an American flag and ended all his sermons with "God bless the president of the United States and all who serve with him the cause of a common country." At one mass rally in San Francisco, 40,000 turned out to hear him speak. A group of Americans living in Victoria, B.C., sent him $1,000 for his work to preserve the Union.
In 1861, he threw himself into the gubernatorial campaign of his parishioner, Leland Stanford.
"What a privilege it is to be an American!" he said. "What a year to live in! Worth all other times ever known in our history or any other!"
The battle to keep California in the Union won, King now turned to the needs of its soldiers who lacked sheets and blankets: Disease took a greater toll than Confederate bullets. Out of $4.8 million U.S. Sanitary Commission raised throughout the U.S., King raised $1.25 million in California.
Yosemite Valley and its giant trees gave him special delight. "Beethoven's Ninth is the Yosemite of music! Great is granite and the Yosemite is its prophet!" He climbed above the falls, attracted by a dome of granite towering 13,600 feet over the valley. Today it bears his name, Mt. Starr King.
In 1913, the state legislature voted Thomas Starr King and Father Junipero Serra, the Catholic missionary, as California’s two greatest heroes and appropriated funds for King’s statue at the U.S. Capitol. On August 31, 2006, however, the California Legislature approved a joint resolution to replace Thomas Starr King's statue in Statuary Hall with a statue of Ronald Reagan. Who's he?

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Avatar for user 'cobradriver99'

cobradriver99 | March 17, 2014 at 7 p.m. ― 6 months, 1 week ago

@CaliforniaDefender

Not native American indians 12,000 years ago

Soultreans(early europeans) 15-20,000 years ago.

Your point? Oh wait, you like to hide those simple facts.

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Avatar for user 'jv333'

jv333 | March 17, 2014 at 10:49 p.m. ― 6 months, 1 week ago

i have a certain sentimental attachment to the mt soledad cross merely for its historical landmark significance. to be honest, I think it was nicer without all the black granite and military markers ... however, if instead of a cross, there was a totem pole, a big Buddha, a Muslim symbol or other religious marker on display, I think everyone would agree with the judge that these and all religious markers on public property should not be there.

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