- On Monday, June 26, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case of Mount Soledad Memorial Association v. Trunk. The Mount Soledad case involves a First Amendment / Establishment Clause challenge to the presence of a large white cross [that] has stood atop Mount Soledad in San Diego, California, since 1954 as a memorial to our Nations war veterans. The cross and memorial now sits on federally owned land, and the United States Court of Appeals held previously that the Memorial, presently configured and as a whole, primarily conveys a message of government endorsement of religion that violates the Establishment Clause.
- The Courts decision to not hear the case next term is not a defeat for efforts to defend the Mount Soledad Cross. Furthermore, it not a defeat for efforts to correct the extreme turn Establishment Clause doctrine has taken in recent decades.
- As Associate Justice Samuel Alito made clear in a statement on this decision, the Court chose to wait in this instance because it did not have a final disposition of the case before it. The Ninth Circuit had sent the case back to the district court emphasizing that its decision and remand d[id] not mean that the Memorial could not be modified to pass constitutional muster [or] that no cross can be part of [the Memorial].
- As Justice Alito stated, Because no final judgment has been rendered and it remains unclear precisely what action the Federal Government will be required to take, I agree with the Courts decision to deny the petitions [for the Supreme Court to hear the case].
- In sum, it appears that no member of the Court felt the case was far enough along procedurally for it to be heard at this time.
- We live to fight another day.
(Thanks to FRC’s Ken Klukowski for all his work on this case and insights about the Court’s decision yesterday.)