Calif. War Memorial Cross Ruled Unconstitutional

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday a veterans' memorial featuring a 43-foot cross on California's Mount Soledad is unconstitutional.

"The use of such a distinctively Christian symbol to honor all veterans sends a strong message of endorsement and exclusion," wrote Judge M. Margaret McKeown for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"It suggests that the government is so connected to a particular religion that it treats that religion's symbolism as its own, as universal."

The decision that the memorial in La Jolla, Calif., violates the Establishment Clause reverses a lower court decision but does not determine what will happen to the cross that has been the dominant feature of the monument since it was erected in 1913.

"This result does not mean that the memorial could not be modified to pass constitutional muster nor does it mean that no cross can be part of this veterans' memorial," McKeown concluded.

The case has wound through the courts for two decades.

"We are grateful to the Ninth Circuit ...

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