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AG Jackley, others support veteran's memorial cross

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Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

PIERRE (AP) — South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley has joined his counterparts in 18 other states in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that the use of a cross to memorialize veterans doesn't violate the First Amendment.

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A veterans group has asked the Supreme Court to overrule an order to remove a 43-foot war memorial cross from a San Diego mountaintop after it was found to violate the unconstitutional separation of church and state.

The cross was erected in 1954. The American Civil Liberties Union and Jewish War Veterans sued the federal government in 2006 after the land on which the cross sits was transferred from the city to the federal government. A judge in December ordered the cross removed after years of legal wrangling, but the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association and the U.S. Department of Justice want the courts to allow the cross to remain.

Jackley said in a statement that he and the other attorneys general have filed a "friend of the court" brief asking that justices "recognize and respect the dedication, sacrifice, and freedoms earned by our veterans."

The attorneys general also are asking the Supreme Court to provide a clearer First Amendment test for lower federal courts to avoid the potential of states having to enter into costly litigation over the issue.

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