Cert. denied in Mt. Soledad Cross case

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

The U.S. Supreme Court today denied certiorari in Mount Soledad Memorial Association v. Trunk (Docket No. 11-998) and the companion appeal in United States v. Trunk (Docket No. 11-1115) (Order List.) In the case, a 3-judge panel of the 9th Circuit held that the now federally-owned Mt. Soledad Memorial featuring a 43-foot high cross conveys a government message of endorsement of religion that violates the Establishment Clause. Subsequently the full 9th Circuit refused an en banc rehearing. However 5 judges, joined an opinion dissenting from the denial of en banc review. (See prior posting.) Justice Alito filed a statement explaining his reasons for going along with today’s denial of review by the Supreme Court, saying in part:

The current petitions come to us in an interlocutory posture. The Court of Appeals remanded the case to the District Court to fashion an appropriate remedy, and, in doing so, the Court of Appeals emphasized that its decision “d[id] not mean that the Memorial could not be modified to pass constitutional muster [or] that no cross can be part of [the Memorial].”….. Because no final judgment has been rendered and it remains unclear precisely what action the Federal Government will be required to take, I agree with the Court’s decision to deny the petitions for certiorari.