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Freemasonry Watch

Judge Orders City To Take Down Mount Soledad Cross

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NBC San Diego

Judge Orders City To Take Down Cross

Case Has Been Subject Of 15-Year Legal Battle

May 3, 2006

Soledad Cross Images: Soledad Cross

SAN DIEGO -- A U.S. district court judge ordered the city of San Diego to remove the Mount Soledad cross within 90 days or pay a hefty daily fine.

Judge Gordon Thompson issued the ruling in favor of Philip K. Paulson on Wednesday, saying the city would have to pay $5,000 per day for each day the cross remains on the site after the 90-day period has expired.

The cross has been the subject of a 15-year legal battle over whether its presence on city parkland violated the separation of church and state. In fact, in the opinion issued on Wednesday, Judge Gordon Thompson Jr. did not bother to review the case's history, writing instead that "the case has a long and torturous legal history. As such, the Court will not reiterate the facts or procedural history here."

Thompson also refers to a "permanent injunction forbidding the permanent presence" of the cross on the land, which was issued in 1991.

"It is now time, and perhaps long overdue, for this court to enforce its initial permanent injunction forbidding the presence of the Mount Soledad cross on city property," reads the ruling issued Wednesday.

Mayor Jerry Sanders issued a news release on Wednesday afternoon, urging the City Council and City Attorney Mike Aguirre to "pursue all judicial remedies in order to save the cross, on the Mount Soledad War Memorial." The statement also said that Sanders "has always viewed the cross as an integral part of the war memorial."

The city has attempted twice to sell the property to the Mount Soledad Association, but federal courts have overturned the sales because they said the transactions favored a buyer who would preserve the cross.

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