April 30, 2010
The U.S. Supreme Court said Wednesday that a lower court went too far in ordering the removal of a congressionally endorsed war memorial cross from its longtime home atop a remote outcropping in California.
According to the Associated Press, the justices ordered the federal court in California to look again at Congress' plan to transfer a patch of federal land beneath it into private hands.
The lower court had barred the land transfer as insufficient to eliminate concern about a religious symbol on public land — in this case, the Mojave National Preserve.
The Supreme Court's ruling was 5-4, with the court's conservatives in the majority.
The VFW first erected a cross at the site in 1934 to honor fallen World War I soldiers. The existing cross, described as 5 feet to 8 feet tall, has been covered with plywood for the past several years following the court rulings.
Other news sources are reporting that opponents of the war memorial cross are calling the decision a violation of First Amendment rights. They contend that the display violates the rights of soldiers from other religions that do not recognize the cross.