Skooter reporting 07/27/12
There has been a First Amendment battle going on over the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial in La Jolla, Calif., for decades now, where a large cross was erected as tribute to Korean War veterans.
The cross sits on public property, so that the American Civil Liberties Union has long debated that the cross will lead to an unconstitutional embarrassment of government and religion.
In 2011, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals approved, sparking off an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but in June, the high court justices refused to hear the case.
Strange as it may seemed, the 9th Circuit, ruled the cross as illegal, but didn't order it removed. The concern parties were left to begin negotiations about what to do with it. ACLU attorney David Loy said at the time, they were going to go back and talk to the district court, as well as to the government, and they will work at arriving at a suitable solution
However, a few days ago, attorneys for the Mount Soledad Memorial Association had found out that the ACLU has been bargaining with the Department of Justice in the absence of the group that actually maintains the cross and memorial site. That triggered concern on Capitol Hill.
Rep., R-Calif., who is himself a veteran, observes that there is a federal law in place preserving the memorial. Hunter fears that instead of fighting to sustain the law, the Justice Department may be negotiating away the protections outlined in the law.
Rep. Hunter was quoted as saying, "If the DOJ is not going to enforce congressional law, they're going to go off on their own in what appears to be lockstep with the ACLU. That puts the cross in danger.”
Hunter and his fellow California Republican Rep., sent a letter to Attorney General asking for more information about the negotiations and pleading that the Memorial Association be included in future discussions. The lawmakers’ request for an immediate meeting with Justice officials was refused, Hunter said.
A federal judge on Thursday is set to hold a hearing involving the parties, and now it seems that the hearing will be centered on the issue of negotiations and which organizations must be included in talks about what to do with the cross.
Attorneys for the Memorial Association say they will take the chance to put up serious objections to the “covert negotiations” between the ACLU and Justice Department and will not concur to any decision that involves taking the cross down from where it was erected.