Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sunrise Rock Cross Litigation Becomes Even More Complicated

The complex procedural history of the Establishment Clause challenge to the Sunrise Rock Cross in the Mojave Preserve veterans' memorial has just become more complicated. Liberty Institute announced yesterday that it has filed a new lawsuit on behalf of the VFW seeking to enforce the statute passed by Congress in 2003 (Defense Appropriations Act 2004, Sec. 8121) directing the Secretary of Interior to transfer title to the property to the VFW. The constitutionality of the transfer statute was challenged on Establishment Clause grounds in a previous lawsuit. Last year the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the 9th Circuit's decision that had found Establishment Clause problems with the transfer. However the Supreme Court's reversal and remand -- in six fragmented opinions-- did not clearly decide the merits of the case. (See prior posting.) Now in VFW Post 385 v. United States, (CD CA, filed 1/10/11) (full text of complaint), the VFW asks the court to quiet title to the parcel of land, to issue a declaratory judgment that the VFW is the owner of the land and to issue an injunction requiring the Secretary of Interior to consummate the land transfer. The lawsuit was apparently triggered by the district court's recent decision refusing to permit the VFW to intervene in the case on remand from the Supreme Court. Riverside (CA) Press Enterprise reports on the new lawsuit. For other developments, see prior related posting. [Thanks to Alliance Alert for the lead.]