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Humanists Salute Supreme Court’s Decision to Let Stand Ruling Declaring Mt. Soledad Cross Unconstitutional

Supreme Court Declines To Hear Mt. Soledad Cross Case

Humanists Salute Supreme Court’s Decision to Let Stand Lower Court’s Ruling Declaring the Cross Unconstitutional

For Immediate Release

Contact: Brian Magee, 202-238-9088, mobile: (202) 681-2425, bmagee@americanhumanist.org

(Washington, DC, June 25, 2012) — The American Humanist Association is pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court today decided to decline to hear an appeal in a California case where a Christian cross as part of a veterans’ war memorial had previously been ruled unconstitutional. The 43-foot cross at the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial in San Diego was deemed unconstitutional by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in October 2011, reversing a 2008 U.S. District Court decision.

“The Supreme Court’s decision today rightly affirms the Ninth Circuit court’s conclusion that the Mt. Soledad cross amounts to an unconstitutional endorsement of Christianity on public land,” said Bill Burgess, attorney and legal coordinator of the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “The cross is an exclusively Christian symbol, and it dominates the memorial in such a way that an observer is left to conclude that Christianity is favored by the government.”

Phillip K. Paulson, a longtime American Humanist Association member who died in 2006, filed the original suit in 1989 (Paulson et al. v. City of San Diego et al). The American Humanist Association wrote an amicus brief in 2006 arguing that the cross is an unconstitutional breach of the Establishment Clause and represents a clear preference for Christians.

“The cross unfairly excludes American veterans who aren’t represented by the Christian symbol,” said American Humanist Association Executive Director Roy Speckhardt. “With the removal of the cross, all of our veterans would be able to look to the memorial as one that truly represents everyone.”

The case now goes back to the District Court to determine a remedy in the face of the determination that the cross as it stands is unconstitutional, leaving open the possibility that alternatives other than removal of the cross could be considered.

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The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 150 local chapters and affiliates across America.

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.