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Jewish War Veterans of the USA v. Hagel/Trunk v. City of San Diego

Status: Closed (Judgment)
Last Update: May 1, 2012

What's at Stake

In 2013, a federal judge ruled from the bench upholding the Ninth Circuit's ruling and ordering that the cross must come down.

The ACLU Foundation, through its Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, and the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties filed suit in federal court in the Southern District of California in August 2006, to contest the federal government's display of a 43-foot Latin cross atop Mt. Soledad in San Diego. The ACLU represents the Jewish War Veterans of the United States and several local residents who argue that the government’s display violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The ACLU is a strong defender of the right of religious organizations and individuals to express their religious beliefs in public. The ACLU is opposed, however, to the government sponsoring, endorsing, promoting, or financing religious symbols. The government has no right or authority to decide whose religious symbols should be promoted and whose should be ignored.

In 2011, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the government's display of the Mt. Soledad cross war memorial is unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case in 2012 and remanded it back to district court. The district court followed the Ninth Circuit's ruling and prohibited the government from displaying the cross.

In June 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the district court's ruling. In December 2014, Congress authorized selling the memorial to the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association. In 2016, Defendants agreed to a settlement and the case was dismissed.

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