Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Interesting Supreme Court Case Today

The Salt Lake Tribune has an overview of the dispute in Pleasant Grove City, UT v. Summum, briefly stated:
Thou shalt - or shalt not - allow Seven Aphorisms to go on display in a public park along with the Ten Commandments.

That's the crux of a monumental Utah case going before the U.S. Supreme Court today.

The dispute erupted after Pleasant Grove allowed one group to post a stone tablet of the Ten Commandments in the city's Pioneer Park. A Salt Lake City-based spiritual group called Summum then tried to post a marker of its own guiding principles, but the Utah County city refused.

Today, the justices will take up the standoff in a case that could set the standard for how cities across the nation deal with religious monuments and symbols in public squares.

"This is an important case for cities all over the country," says Thomas Baker, a professor at the Florida International University's College of Law in Miami who summarized the case for the American Bar Association. "The Supreme Court is going to revise the rules of access to public spaces and public parks."
This is going to be a tough one for the Justices, who will have to revisit a couple of 2005 cases dealing with displays of the 10 Commandments in public spaces and given the nature of this case, it will probably not result in anything clear cut and helpful for municipalities in the future.

At first blush, it looks like a pretty clear cut case of viewpoint or content discrimination, but I am not so sure. Which of course is why it is at the Supreme Court.

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