Lost in the news over the U.S. Supreme Court's immigration ruling Monday is a more obscure decision by the justices not to hear an appeal over a war memorial cross overlooking the Pacific Ocean that was found to be an unconstitutional mixing of government and religion.
The decision comes despite recent rulings signaling a greater willingness to allow religious symbols on public land.
“While we are disappointed the court did not accept this case for review at this time, we are hopeful we can find a solution that will allow this veterans memorial to remain where it has stood for over half a century,” said Allyson Ho, lead counsel for the co-defendant, the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association.
The 29-foot high current cross sits on a 14-foot base, surrounded by walls that display more than 2,100 plaques commemorating individual veterans and veterans groups.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last year that found the cross unconstitutional capped two decades of legal challenges over the 1950s cross that became a memorial to Korean War veterans.
David Loy, of the American Civil Liberties Union in San Diego County, told the Associated Press that the Mount Soledad case now goes back to the U.S. District Court in California to decide what measures should be taken to remedy the situation.
"In this case the government has no business playing favorites with religion, thus the Supreme Court decided properly to stay out of it," he said.
But, The Liberty Institute says Justice Samuel Alito issued a statement stating that the appeal may be premature and that the court may reconsider this case after the district court issues a final order determining the fate of the memorial.
“We are hopeful in light of Justice Alito’s statement and remain committed to defending this memorial through the many legal battles yet to come,” said Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of Liberty Institute and co-counsel for the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association.