Judge Larry Burns made the order on Thursday, which continues a legal battle over the cross that stands 43-feet tall atop San Diego’s Mt. Soledad.
The cross was ordered taken down by Burns within the next 90 days. However, the cross might stay if the case goes to appeal.
The Mount Soledad Memorial Association president Bruce Bailey said they were obviously disappointed by the judge’s ruling. Bailey said the organization is planning to appeal, which means the cross could remain in place as the legal battle continues. The cross has been the center of this legal battle for decades.
In 1954, the cross was first erected in honor of veterans from the Korean War. It has been the center of a nearly constant court battle since 1989. At that time, two veterans from the Vietnam War filed a suit claiming the cross violated the Constitution of California in its No Preference clause.
Since that first suit in 1989, San Diego city officials twice attempted to sell the property under the cross to the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association, only to have courts stop the sales.
In 2004, each party involved in the legal action reached an agreement, which would have moved the huge cross to a church nearby.
However, two Congressmen but a rider in the budget bill of 2005 that designated the land as a national veteran’s memorial and authorized the government in Washington to accept the donated property.
More fights in court ensued and more filings followed. In 2006, three other Congressmen pushed a bill through, that called for the government to take possession of the property by the right of eminent domain, calling the property a historically significant memorial. That year in the beginning of August, the federal government took possession of the property.
Almost immediately, a lawsuit contending the transfer of land to the government in August was filed, which eventually led to the ruling by the court on Thursday.