Reacting to Hunter’s legislation, San Diego attorney Jim McElroy, representing the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is opposed to the cross at the Mt. Soledad War Memorial owned by the federal government, said, “You can’t pass a law that abrogates the U.S. Constitution. For 25 years the courts have ruled that government should not take sides in matters of religion, should not endorse or support one religion over all the other religions.”
McElroy argued there’s a qualitative difference between crosses on individual gravesites and the one at the Mt. Soledad Memorial.
“A 40-foot-high, 20-ton cross completely dominates the memorial and sends a message of government endorsement of religion,” he said, adding the problem of the cross’s constitutionality “can only be solved by either moving the cross or having the federal government transfer it in some manner.”
The Soledad cross has been the subject of litigation for 24 years with a lawsuit initiated by the late Philip Paulson, a Vietnam War veteran who alleged that a Christian religious symbol was inappropriate at a public monument.
A 2011 ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Soledad cross violated the First Amendment’s ban on government favoring one religion over another.