Future of Mt. Soledad cross could hinge on meetings between lawyers

Meeting to discuss compromise expected soon

SAN DIEGO - 10News has learned there may soon be an end to the long-fought battle over the Mount Soledad cross.

The cross is a symbol unto itself. It is also a war memorial and this weekend above all others, many people think about it.

"I served in the U.S. Air Force," said Joe Bissell, who lives nearby. "My father fought in World War II in the U.S. Navy, so it has a special meaning in my heart. I really hope people will keep fighting to keep it here for that reason."

His wife Tracey added, "We have appreciation for it for both reasons. We have people who served in our families… also, of course, because of the religious and spiritual meaning of the cross."

There have been legal battles over the constitutionality of the memorial for decades.

"The government has to stay out of the business of religion," said Jim McElroy, who has been the lead attorney in the effort to move the cross off public property. 

McElroy is expecting a meeting with government lawyers soon to discuss a compromise.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case last summer, leaving the appellate court decision intact: that it is unconstitutional as it stands now on federal land.

"I think the option that makes more sense, constitutionally, is to move it, keep it intact, move it close by and everybody can continue to enjoy it," said McElroy. "The War Memorial will be what it should be: a memorial for all veterans."

He expects negotiations to last several months, although he knows they could all go back to court again.

"I'm sure we'll have productive discussions," said McElroy. "They are very reasonable people on the other side. We may disagree, but they are reasonable people."

This Easter, the cross remains atop Mount Soledad.

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