Thursday, November 17, 2011

Another Cross Appears and Is Removed From Sunrise Rock

The long-running battle over the the cross on Sunrise Rock in the Mojave Desert Veterans' Memorial is back in the news. Congress attempted to transfer the land on which the cross was constructed to the VFW to avoid an Establishment Clause challenge. In a fragmented decision, the U.S. Supreme Court sent the challenge to the land transfer back to the lower courts. (See prior posting.) Subsequently the cross that was the subject of litigation was stolen, private parties erected a replica (see prior posting) and the National Park Service removed the replica to comply with a district court injunction that was still in effect. (Background from NPS). Yesterday Scripps Howard reported that yet another cross appeared on Sunrise Rock on Monday. Park Service rangers removed it on Tuesday. Park Service police will investigate who erected the cross and whether a crime was committed. Both this cross and the former one that was removed will be held as evidence while negotiations to settle the lawsuit over the land transfer continue. On Tuesday, the federal district court granted the parties a 90-day extension in their attempts to reach a settlement.