The City Council voted last night to continue fighting a 17-year-old battle for the survival of the Mount Soledad Cross in La Jolla, at least for the next few weeks.
By a vote of 5-3, the council decided to appeal two recent decisions handed down by judges against the constitutionality of the 30-foot-tall concrete cross, which stands at the center of a war memorial atop Mount Soledad.
U.S. District Judge Gordon Thompson, Jr. ruled earlier this month that the cross must be removed from city property or the court will begin fining the city $5,000 for every day the cross remains standing on public land.
Last July, San Diego voters passed Proposition A, which sought to transfer the cross and the land it sits on to the federal government. But San Diego Superior Court Judge Patricia Yim Cowett stymied hopes of moving the cross to federal land when she ruled, two months later, that Proposition A was unconstitutional and therefore null and void.
Tuesday night the council decided to continue in its efforts to save the cross as it is and where it is, a battle the city has waged since the original complaint was made against the cross in 1991. That lawsuit was made by Phillip Paulson, who is an atheist and contends that it’s unconstitutional to house the religious symbol on city-owned land.
The motion passed by the council was recommended by Mayor Jerry Sanders. He asked the council to appeal both decisions and to ask for a stay of Thompson’s decision. A stay essentially buys the city more time to pursue its legal appeals without being subjected to the $5,000-a-day fines.