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Delay in San Diego cross case

Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on Monday put on temporary hold a federal judge’s order requiring the removal of a Christian cross on city-owned land in San Diego. He did so apparently to give himself, and perhaps the full Court, more time to decide whether to postpone the effect of the removal order while appeals proceed.

The city of San Diego and a war memorial group asked Kennedy last Thursday to stay the latest order issued by U.S. District Judge Gordon Thompson, Jr. In his May 3 ruling, Thompson told city officials to remove the cross within 90 days or face daily fines of $5,000; that order sought to carry out a 1991 ruling that the cross’ location is a violation of the California state constitution.

Kennedy’s order on Monday temporarily stayed the order, pending further action by him or by the full Court. There was no indication whether any further order might be forthcoming. Kennedy acted on applicatiosn 05-A-1233 and 05-A-1234.

City officials have said that, if Thompson’s order were not delayed, they would begin removing the cross from the site as early as Wednesday of this week.