Congress Will Likely Transfer the Mount Soledad Cross to Private Land December 7, 2014

Congress Will Likely Transfer the Mount Soledad Cross to Private Land

We are still talking about the Mount Soledad cross for some reason.

Here’s a quick recap in case you’re unfamiliar with the story: This controversy, which began nearly 25 years ago, is the longest-running Establishment Clause case in American history.

It involves the Mount Soledad cross in San Diego — a huge cross on public land erected in 1954. After the now-deceased Philip Paulson challenged the cross’ constitutionality more than two decades ago and after atheist Steve Trunk took up the case a few years ago, atheists have generally prevailed in the court system. In 2012, the Supreme Court declined to hear any more challenges from Christian groups, putting the future of the cross back in the hands of lower courts.

Steve Trunk, in front of the Mt. Soledad Cross

A year ago, U.S. District Judge Larry Burns ordered the cross to come down from the mountain within 90 days… but the ruling was stayed until the other side had a chance to appeal.

In April, lawyers from the U.S. Department of Justice filed a petition with the Supreme Court saying they would be defending the cross if lower courts ruled that it had to be taken down.

And now, the House has passed a bill that will transfer the land on which the cross rests to a private Christian group… so that it’s off government property… making it legal once again. (Sneaky, eh?) The provision is tucked into the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015,” which will likely get passed by the Senate this week:

[Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr.’s] provision stipulates that the defense secretary convey the memorial to the local association after agreement is reached on price. The association and any subsequent owner would be required to maintain the structure as a veterans memorial in perpetuity.

That price was once $1,300,000. No clue what it’ll go for now. Given the comfy relationship between Christian groups and the government, I’m guessing no more than a few bucks at most.

(Portions of this article have been posted before. Thanks to Brian for the link)

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