Philip Paulson, the atheist and Vietnam War veteran who waged a 17-year legal battle to remove a 29-foot cross from government land atop Mount Soledad, died of cancer earlier today.
Paulson, 59, was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer several months ago and was given four months to a year to live, James McElroy, his attorney said.
With McElroy’s help, Paulson successfully argued that the presence of a religious symbol on city land violates the California Constitution. His case has been a centerpiece of civic debate for nearly two decades and several related challenges are currently pending in the state and federal courts.
Here’s what McElroy wrote about his friend and client in an e-mail message: