VFW sues Obama administration over disputed cross memorial

January 12, 2011

WASHINGTON (RNS) The Veterans of Foreign Wars has sued the Obama
administration, saying it is dragging its feet on transferring ownership
of land under a controversial California war memorial.


The Supreme Court ruled last April that a congressionally approved
land swap involving a five-foot memorial cross in the Mojave Desert
Preserve was constitutional, but legal wrangling over it has continued.


"Despite the reversal by the Supreme Court, the government has
refused to give effect to the land-transfer statute and transfer the
land upon which the memorial stands to the VFW," reads the complaint
filed Tuesday (Jan. 11) in a California district court.


Officials from the Justice Department could not be reached for
comment.


Shortly after the high court ruling, the cross was stolen from the
site and has not been replaced. The VFW has unsuccessfully sought to
have the memorial rebuilt with a new cross.


"This is our land, our memorial and we want it back," said James
Rowoldt, an official of the VFW Department of California, in a
statement.


The latest action in the Mojave cross case follows a Jan. 4 ruling
by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that a veterans' memorial
featuring a 43-foot cross on California's Mount Soledad is
unconstitutional.