A judge on Thursday ordered that a war memorial cross atop a San Diego mountain be removed from federal property in 90 days but said the ruling would be put on hold if it is appealed.
U.S. District Judge Larry Burns wrote that “it’s time for finality” in the case, 22 years after another judge ordered the 43-foot cross atop Mount Soledad to be taken down.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2011 that the cross violated the constitutional separation of church and state. After the Supreme Court declined review, the case went back to Burns to consider possible alternatives.
Burns rejected arguments that Congress may eventually agree to transfer the land to a private party.
“If a transfer were underway or were imminent, or there was a strong prospect of a transfer, the question would be more difficult,” he wrote in a five-page ruling.
Burns said he believed the cross doesn’t represent a government attempt to promote religion but acknowledged that the appellate court ruled differently.
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