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US Supreme Court Hearing Cross Case

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The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a case the court could use to make a statement about separation of church and state.

The high court Wednesday is hearing the legal dispute surrounding a cross erected in a remote section of a California desert.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars put the cross on public land more than 70 years ago in the Mojave National Preserve as a memorial to fallen World War One service members.

The cross was covered in recent years after a federal court ruled it violates the Constitution's First Amendment, which prohibits government endorsement of religion.

A former National Park Service employee, Frank Buono, sued to have the cross removed after the park denied a request to build a Buddhist memorial nearby.

The Obama administration is defending the presence of the cross and wants the court to rule that Buono had no right to file the lawsuit because he is a Christian and is not suffering any harm from the cross. Buono says allowing just a cross and no other religious monuments excludes those with other religious beliefs.

Congress previously intervened in the case by designating the cross as a national memorial. Lawmakers also passed legislation to transfer the desert land where the cross is located to private ownership in an attempt to resolve the issue -- but a court objected to that move.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.