Added by James Morley on December 29, 2010
In a ruling that ended two decades of the legal dispute, a Federal appeals court ruled that the war memorial in San Diego with a large Christian cross contravened the constitutional ban on endorsement of religion by the government.
The cross is situated on public land and this is the reason why the memorial has been found unconstitutional. In this ruling, the decision of lower-court was rejected which had summarily dismissed the legal suit that had been brought on by Jewish war veterans.
The three-judge panel concluded that the judgment of the district court was erroneous. However, the panel refused to order the removal of the cross.
The panel encouraged the government to make the necessary changes to the cross that will ensure that it is not seen upon as an endorsement of religion by the government, something seen as unconstitutional in the United States.
The panel also rejected the argument that a similar cross in the Mozave National Preserve was treated as legal and that the same rule should be applicable here as well. The panel distinguished this case with the latter case by pointing out that the latter had a cross on a private land surrounded by public land.
In 2006, the government had acquired the land through eminent domain. It remains to be seen whether the Obama administration will appeal to the Supreme Court in what has been a volatile and controversial dispute up until now.