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Two congressmen continue fight to save Mt. Soledad cross

July 19, 2012 |  4:48 pm

Mt. Soledad CrossFearing that the two-decade legal fight to save the cross atop Mt. Soledad is nearing an end, two San Diego congressmen have attached an amendment to the defense budget that would bar any federal funds from being used for "dismantling any portion" of the cross.

The amendment, offered by Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Solana Beach) and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine), was adopted Wednesday night in the House of Representatives.

Bilbray and Hunter said they were prompted by the revelation that the Department of Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union are negotiating a compromise that would end the legal battle. The two congressmen were rebuffed in their request that the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Assn. be included in the negotiations about the 43-foot cross.

"This suggests that (the Justice Department), which has been less than enthusiastic about doing its job of defending the memorial as required by law, would much rather come to an agreement so that it can move on to the next thing," Hunter said.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last year ruled that the cross violates the Constitution because it sits on public land. But the court did not order the cross taken down, suggesting that a compromise might be possible.

The U.S. Supreme Court in June declined to hear the Justice Department's appeal of that ruling. One justice noted the 9th Circuit ruling's mention of a possible compromise.


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--Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: The cross atop Mt. Soledad in San Diego. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times