Critics say the cross violates the Constitution's ban on government establishment of religion. The case will be argued Wednesday.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars' Death Valley post first built the cross at Sunrise Rock in 1934 to honor Americans who died in combat in World War I. The most recent version of the cross was erected 11 years ago by a man named Henry Sandoz.
Neither the VFW nor Sandoz ever owned the land where the cross is located — nor did they have permission to build on the land.
But in 1999, a Buddhist asked the National Park Service for permission to erect a Buddhist shrine on federal land near the cross. The agency refused, setting in motion a series of events in the courts and Congress, culminating in Wednesday's Supreme Court hearing.