WASHINGTON — Obama administration lawyers have told the Supreme Court they will defend the 29-foot-tall cross atop Mount Soledad in San Diego as a memorial to the nation’s war veterans and not an unconstitutional promotion of Christianity by the government.

But they also said the 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco should be given “additional time for reflection” to correct its mistake and uphold the constitutionality of the cross.

The administration’s position, sent to the court this week, means the high court will likely have to decide the fate of the San Diego cross, but not this year.

The cross atop Mount Soledad was erected in 1954, but it has been under legal attack since 1989. A decade ago, Congress tried to resolve the matter by taking possession of the land and declaring it a national memorial to honor veterans. But several veterans, including the Jewish War Veterans of the United States, sued, contending the Christian cross was a religious symbol.

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