ACLU to Argue that Government’s Display of Mt. Soledad Cross Is Unconstitutional

PASADENA, CA – The American Civil Liberties Union, representing the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America and several local residents, will argue Wednesday, December 9 before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that the continued display of the Mt. Soledad Latin cross on federally owned land in San Diego is an unconstitutional endorsement by the government of favored religious viewpoints.

A U.S. District Court judge ruled in July 2008 that the cross is constitutional after the federal government obtained the land on which the cross sits through a special act of Congress. Wednesday’s arguments before a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit will address the ACLU’s appeal of that decision.

According to the ACLU, the federal government’s recent acquisition of the land was nothing more than a transparent effort to evade a long series of unfavorable court decisions invalidating the city of San Diego’s display of the 43-foot tall cross. Courts have routinely recognized that governmental displays of distinctly sectarian symbols send an impermissible message of exclusion and religious favoritism.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the government’s display of the cross in 2006 on behalf of three local individuals and the Washington, D.C.-based Jewish War Veterans, the oldest active national veterans service organization in the country.

ACLU arguments that a Latin cross on federal land atop Mt. Soledad in San Diego, California is unconstitutional

Matthew Jones, from the private law firm WilmerHale, will argue before a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Daniel Mach, Director of Litigation for the ACLU Program on Freedom of Belief, and David Blair-Loy, Legal Director for the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, will be on hand to answer questions from members of the media.

Wednesday, December 8, 2009 at 8:30 a.m. PST

Richard H. Chambers U.S. Court of Appeals building
Courtroom 2
125 South Grand Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91105

History of the Soledad Cross Controversy