As the appeals proceeded, the cross was covered in a plywood box.
“It is a disgrace that this memorial to our fallen veterans has been covered in a box of plywood for ten years while the case made its way to the US Supreme Court,” Mr. Shackelford said. “This box must come off.”
He added, “No war memorial with religious imagery is safe until the court rules that these memorials … are allowed under the Constitution.”
Justice Anthony Kennedy offered veterans some encouragement in his 19-page plurality decision. “The Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion’s role in society,” he wrote.
Kennedy added: “One Latin cross in the desert evokes far more than religion. It evokes thousands of small crosses in foreign fields marking the graves of Americans who fell in battles, battles whose tragedies are compounded if the fallen are forgotten.”
Opponents of the Mojave cross expressed disappointment at the high court’s action on Wednesday, but pledged to keep fighting for removal of the cross.
“We will continue to argue that the land transfer did not remedy the violation of the establishment clause,” said Peter Eliasberg of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, who argued the case before the high court.
“The cross is unquestionably a sectarian symbol, and it is wrong for the government to make such a deliberate effort to maintain it as a national memorial,” he said in a statement.