Skip to comments.Mt. Soledad bill would end fed ownership
Posted on 01/03/2014 12:28:05 PM PST by South40
Duncan Hunter legislation would transfer control of cross and site to Mount Soledad Memorial Association
A bill directing the Pentagon to transfer the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial and its controversial cross out of the hands of the federal government was introduced in the House of Representatives Friday by Rep. Duncan Hunter.
The Alpine Republican's bill would place the nations oldest Korean War memorial under the sole control of the Mount Soledad Memorial Association and keep the cross in place.
The Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial Preservation Act specifically orders the Secretary of Defense to cede all rights, title and interest in the memorial site to the association at no cost.
Hunter said the bill preserves an icon of regional significance.
"It stands as a symbol of service and sacrifice by generations of military heroes," he said Friday morning. "It doesn't give preference to one military service, and those who are honored on its walls and by the presence of the entire memorial span many decades."
Many other war memorials incorporate religious symbols, he said, and Mount Soledad should not have to remove the cross that the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled is an unconstitutional endorsement of the Christian religion on federal property.
"Individual faith has always been a part of military service, and the headstones at our national cemeteries are indicative of that fact.," Hunter said. " Mount Soledad adheres to the same tradition, but there can be no mistaking the fact that the memorial, as it stands, is intended to honor those who serve. A direct transfer of the memorial from the Department of Defense to the association provides greater protection overall by putting the memorial under non-federal ownership."
Memorial Association president Bruce Bailey said his more than 300 member group supports the legislation.
"This sounds like a positive move and if it could be accomplished it certainly would put an end to the lawsuit started way back in May of 1989," he said. "But we will just have to see how all this plays out."
A judge in San Diego last month ruled the cross had to come down after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to change its finding the cross had to be removed. But the U.S. District Judge Larry Burns issued a stay in order to give cross proponents time to appeal again, which is under way.
Supporters want the case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve the matter for good. If Hunters bill gains traction and wins House and Senate approval, the court case could be moot.
Past attempts at transferring ownership to resolve the issue haven't been successful.
In 2006, Congress approved legislation in which the federal government used eminent domain to seize the memorial from the city, which held the title at that point. Since then, the legal battles have persisted.
A version of the cross has risen from the property for 59 years.
The memorial association, which has been fighting the removal, is planning to petition for another hearing with the U.S. Supreme Court, which could take months. The high court has previously declined to weigh in on the cross, returning it to lower courts. But Justice Samuel Alito has called the issue one of substantial importance, giving proponents hope it will take the case on this year.
Photo by: South40, Monday, December 16, 2013
I like. It’s none of the government’s business.
They did that for the Mt. Helix cross (also San Diego county) years ago.
It’s a start. The Feds need to relinquish ownership over much more land.
I'd prefer Hunter explain why he fought to get it under federal control but now he is fighting to get it out of federal control!
That was a different Duncan Hunter. That was Hunter the elder who occupied the office from 1980 - 2006. Son, Duncan D. Hunter, who is behind this bill, was elected in 2008.
Correction: Duncan Hunter Sr. occupied the office from 1980 - 2008.
I hope they can do the same for this cross.
The cross belongs there.
I stand corrected! I’d forgotten about the son.