The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to review the Mount Soledad cross case, but that doesn't mean the high court won't eventually have its say, according to local law professors.
In the most recent ruling of the long-running dispute, a district court said the cross must be removed from public land. Supporters of the 43-foot monument wanted to skip the appeals court because they claim the Ninth Circuit has been hostile to the cross in earlier rulings.
The Supreme Court, however, wants the case to go through the usual chain of appeal.
Glenn Smith, a constitutional law professor at California Western School of Law, said in the opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that he wanted all the issues to be preserved, perhaps indicating a future action.
"He's signaling that he's interested in this issue and is following it," Smith said. "This just puts off a Supreme Court decision by a year or two."
The Obama administration disagrees with a lower court order for the cross to be removed, but said the case should go to the appeals court first.
The justices did not comment Monday in rejecting the association's appeal.
The case is Mt. Soledad Memorial Association v. Trunk, 13-1061.