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Trunk v. City of San Diego, No. 08-56415

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By FindLaw Staff on January 05, 2011 5:19 PM

Establishment Clause Challenge to War Memorial

In Trunk v. City of San Diego, No. 08-56415, an Establishment Clause challenge to a cross on a war memorial, the court reversed summary judgment for defendants where the district court erred in declaring the memorial to be primarily non-sectarian, because a few scattered memorial services before the 1990s did not establish a historical war memorial landmark such as those found in Arlington Cemetery, Gettysburg, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

As the court wrote:  "The forty-three foot cross ("Cross") and veterans' memorial ("Memorial") atop Mount Soledad in La Jolla, California, have generated controversy for more than twenty years. During this time, the citizens of San Diego (where La Jolla is located), the San Diego City Council, the United States Congress, and, on multiple occasions, the state and federal courts have considered its fate. Yet no resolution has emerged. Indeed, we believe that no broadly applauded resolution is possible because this case represents the difficult and intractable intersection of religion, patriotism, and the Constitution."

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