Alliance Defending Freedom, ACLU Dispute Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial

Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial
Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial [Photo courtesy the American Legion]

SAN DIEGO — On Tuesday, attorneys with the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom organization filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in defense of a 55-year-old cross located at the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial.

The constitutionality of the cross, which is located on federal land at the memorial is being challenged by American Civil Liberties Union.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys represent the American Legion Department of California in the case.

“One person’s agenda shouldn’t diminish the sacrifices made by America’s veterans and their families,” said ADF Senior Counsel Joe Infranco. “The ACLU claims to be ‘the foremost defender of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.’ Most Americans know, however, that title really belongs to the veterans whose memorial the ACLU is attacking.”

In 2007, ADF established a joint effort with Liberty Legal Institute and The American Legion to defend America’s veterans’ memorials from legal attack. For nearly 20 years, a number of lawsuits have sought to tear down the 29-foot cross at Mt. Soledad.

In 2005, 76 percent of San Diego voters chose to preserve the cross by transferring the memorial from city property to the ownership of the U.S. Department of the Interior. In 2006, Congress passed a law that officially transferred ownership.

Two lawsuits, including one by the ACLU, unsuccessfully challenged the constitutionality of the land transfer. Now the ACLU is targeting the cross itself as being unconstitutional. A district court rejected that claim as well, holding that the presence of the cross on federal land does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. That decision is what is now on appeal to the 9th Circuit.

“The courts have already rejected a challenge to constitutionality of the land transfer. Further, San Diegans have overwhelmingly supported allowing the cross to remain at the memorial,” Infranco explained. “It’s time to bring an end to the ACLU’s ridiculous and offensive battle to strip the memorial of a symbol which pays tribute to our fallen soldiers.”

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