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The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today ruled a $5,000-a-day fine imposed by a federal judge on the city of San Diego is moot because the U.S. government has now taken control of the controversial Mount Soledad Cross.

U.S. District Judge Gordon Thompson, Jr. in May enforced his 1991 order calling on the city to take down the cross because it was unconstitutional, threatening to impose a daily fine if it was not done.

The city appealed that decision, but the appeals court denied the appeal today — saying that Gordon’s fine was made moot by the transfer to the federal government. The transfer itself is the subject of another legal challenge launched in part by the original plaintiff who claimed the cross’s presence on city land violated the separation of church and state.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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