The US Supreme Court, more specifically Justice Anthony Kennedy, issued a stay of a lower federal court ruling that said the Mt. Soledad Easter Cross is unconstitutional and it needed to be removed from the city of San Diego’s property by August 2nd or the city would be fined $5,000 a day. U.S. District Judge Gordon Thompson Jr. issued his final ruling back in May to end the 17 year legal battle (see my previous post Enough is enough San Diego – move the dang cross ).
A stay is issued to give the justices time to read legal briefs from both parties in order to decide if they will hear the case as part of their regular docket. The stay was needed because the court may not get to hear the case before the fines start to add up.
Of course the Mayor of San Diego and the Religious Right think that Justice Kennedy’s actions means they have won the case.
It isn’t the first time that the religious right have lied about this case in the past 17 years in their quest to keep the unconstitutional cross up on city property. Plaintiff Philip Paulson issued the following points this week:
* Every annual publication of the Thomas Brothers Map from 1954 to 1989 presented a geographic legal description of the location as the “Mt. Soledad Easter Cross” after which year (cross case was filed on May 31, 1989) the name of the legal location on the map was changed to the “Mt. Soledad Memorial.”
* There was no placard or marker to be found anywhere on Mt. Soledad Natural Park nor at the site of the Mt. Soledad Easter Cross to indicate that it was a veterans’ memorial until after 1992, when the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association installed such a marker with a “Veterans” memorial inscription.
* Every Easter holiday sunrise since 1954 was an occasion at Mt. Soledad for local Christian worship services to celebrate the crucifixion of their concept of a deity and messiah Jesus Christ.
* The Mt. Soledad Cross was dedicated to “Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” in a dedication bulletin by the grandmother of William J. Kellogg, President of the Mt. Soledad memorial Association on Easter Sunday, 1954.
* The Mt. Soledad Memorial Association made improvements to the property within Mt. Soledad Natural Park. All improvements were unwisely added while litigation proceedings were taking place. “Six concentric walls hold 3,200 black granite plaques purchased by donors and engraved with the names and photos of war veterans — currently more than 1,700 are in place.”
* The Mt. Soledad Memorial Association claims that the site for the Veterans’ Memorial on Mt. Soledad Natural Park was dedicated on Easter holiday to commemorate and memorialize those who died during the Korean War era, but the cross clearly shows preference and discrimination only for Christian veterans. The Mt. Soledad Easter Cross is not a sacred symbol for non-Christian veterans, and it may be cogently argued that the presence of the Mt. Soledad Easter Cross demeans them with second-class citizenship status in their own country. The symbol arrogantly proclaims that “Jesus Rules San Diego.”
The other lie the religious right and supporters of the cross are spreading is trying to smear U.S. District Judge Gordon Thompson Jr. as a liberal – activist judge. Thompson was appointed to the bench in 1970 by President Nixon and those who know him or worked for him say is not a liberal or an activist judge.
Thompson is many things, but those who know him – former law clerks, lawyers who have been in his courtroom, former colleagues – say there are two things he most certainly is not: liberal or activist.
Instead they describe the judge – now 76 and on senior status with the court – as a rock-ribbed, serious-minded jurist with a reputation for handing down tough sentences in criminal cases.
“His reputation is he is a no-nonsense, law-and-order sort of judge,” said Peter Nunez, who was one of several U.S. attorneys in San Diego during Thompson’s stint on the bench. Nunez also was the first law clerk Thompson ever hired, shortly after he was sworn in October 1970.
“He is not an activist judge or anything like that, by any means,” Nunez said.
This case has been fought for 17 years and the city and cross supporters have lost every time a judge has heard the case. In fact the US Supreme Court refused to hear a city appeal in 2003.
But the religious right and the pandering city officials who keep this case alive follow the same pattern the so-called Christians seem to follow – lying, name calling, character assassination, fraud, delays, and contempt of court. Kudos to Philip Paulson for sticking with it for so long to make sure the city of San Diego follows the court order.