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Supreme Court stays lower court order to remove San Diego memorial cross

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [JURIST news archive] on Monday stayed a lower court's order that a 29-foot cross honoring Korean War veterans [background] be removed from city-owned property in San Diego. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy [official profile], who oversees appeals from the Ninth Circuit, granted without comment the temporary delay requested [docket] by the San Diegans for the Mt. Soledad National War Memorial [advocacy website], which argued that removing the 55-year-old cross would amount to "destruction of a national treasure." City officials had planned to remove the cross as soon as Wednesday. In May, US District Judge Gordon Thompson Jr. [official profile] 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 [text].

The lawsuit was brought by Philip Paulson, an atheist and Vietnam War veteran who has been challenging the cross for more than 15 years. The Supreme Court declined [docket] to consider an appeal in other litigation over the Mt. Soledad cross three years ago. AP has more. SCOTUSblog has additional coverage. The San Diego Union-Tribune has local coverage.

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