Veterans Sue to Keep Controversial Mountaintop Cross

The Mt. Soledad cross has been part of the city’s landscape for 59 years

By R. Stickney
|  Thursday, Dec 19, 2013  |  Updated 9:33 AM EDT
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The veterans group views the cross as an "international symbol of sacrifice."

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Less than a week after a judge ordered the removal of the large cross erected atop public land in San Diego, a veterans group has filed an appeal.

The Mt. Soledad cross has been part of the city’s landscape for 59 years and has been incorporated into a memorial for U.S. military veterans.

On Thursday, a federal judge declared that the cross violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution and unlawfully endorses one religion over others.

The Mt. Soledad Memorial Association (MSMA) filed notice Wednesday appealing that decision.

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The legal fight over the Mt. Soledad cross began in 1989 when atheist Philip Paulson sued the city of San Diego. Paulson, a Vietnam War veteran, contended that the cross excludes veterans who aren't Christian.

A Jewish war veterans group has also been a plaintiff in the case along with the American Civil Liberties Union.

The cross is part of the oldest memorial to Korean War veterans in the U.S. If the cross is removed from this memorial, the MSMA argues that other war memorials could soon be ordered to do the same.

The veterans group feels the issue should be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

However, justices declined to hear the case last year, sending it back to federal court in San Diego, where Thursday’s order was issued.

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