[JURIST] US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy ordered Friday that a temporary stay [JURIST report] against the removal of a monumental cross on city property in San Diego be continued until the Ninth Circuit hears an appeal on the cross's removal this fall. Kennedy issued the original stay of a lower court's order that a 29-foot cross honoring Korean War veterans [backgrounder] be removed on Monday after city officials threatened to remove the cross as early as this week.
In a rare written opinion [PDF] explaining the extended stay, Kennedy wrote:
The equities here support preserving the status quo while the city's appeal proceeds. Compared to the irreparable harm of altering the memorial and removing the cross, the harm in a brief delay pending the Court of Appeals' expedited consideration of the case seems slight.In May, US District Judge Gordon Thompson Jr. of the Southern District of California ordered [Union-Tribune report] that the cross be removed by Aug. 2 and that the city be fined $5,000 a day if it was not. Thompson found that the cross was a state endorsement of religion that violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The lawsuit was brought by Philip Paulson, an atheist and Vietnam War veteran who has been challenging the cross for more than 15 years [Paulson article]. The Supreme Court declined [docket] to consider an appeal in other litigation over the Mt. Soledad cross three years ago. AP has more.