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The concrete cross atop Mount Soledad in San Diego is unremarkable but for the fact that it watches over a national memorial honoring members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Jewish and other non-Christian veterans have been pushing to have it removed for nearly 20 years on First Amendment grounds. The issue landed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in May. Last week, Judge John Bates ordered three California congressmen who sponsored a 2004 bill naming Mount Soledad a national memorial to turn over records to the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America, which is suing the Department of Defense for displaying the cross (the department declined to comment). WilmerHale’s Jonathan Siegelbaum, who is representing the veterans group, says the documents will go far in showing how the government’s actions were unconstitutional. The catch: The congressmen — Republican Reps. Duncan Hunter, Brian Bilbray, and Darrell Issa — rather than the court will decide which documents are privileged. This is a nod to the August decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C Circuit in the case of indicted Rep. William Jefferson (D-La). The court ruled that the FBI broke the law in seizing privileged legislative documents from Jefferson’s office last year.
Joe Palazzolo can be contacted at [email protected].

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