Fight over San Diego cross back in court

SAN DIEGO, April 16 (UPI) -- The two-decade-old dispute over a 43-foot cross on public land in San Diego returned to court this week.

The land at the summit of Mount Soledad originally belonged to the city but was transferred to the Defense Department in 2006. Now the Jewish War Veterans and a San Diego resident, Steve Trunk, are challenging the transfer, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.


Supporters of the cross say it is part of a memorial to veterans. Opponents say it is an unconstitutional religious symbol.

A federal judge first ordered the cross to be removed in 1991. The original suit was brought by Philip Paulson, an atheist and Vietnam Veteran who has since died.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns, during Monday's hearing, hinted he might rule for the federal government, saying that courts have to give deference to Congress and that the bill authorizing the transfer referred to a "memorial." He also said he expects years of appeals however he rules.

"I don't have any illusions I'm going to be the last word on this," Burns said.

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