Thursday, November 16, 2006

10th Circuit Hears Arguments In "Seven Aphorisms" Cases

Yesterday, the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals heard consolidated oral arguments in five cases in which the Summum church has sued the cities of Duchesne and Pleasant Grove, Utah, claiming that the church should be able to put up a monument containing its Seven Aphorisms next to Ten Commandment monuments in city parks. Summum v. Duchesne City was an appeal of a 2004 Utah federal district court decision (LEXIS) rejecting Summum's requests. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Summum attorney Brian Barnard argued that city officials violated the church's First Amendment rights by favoring one form of speech over another. Subsequently however the city transferred the land on which the 10 Commandments monument stands to a private owner. The city says that now it has no authority to permit Summum to place a display on the property.

The Deseret News reports that a second case under review involved a similar refusal by the City of Pleasant Grove. (See prior posting.) Attorney Barnard said Pleasant Grove has allowed the Boy Scouts to put up a monument to fallen 9/11 firefighters near the Ten Commandments in the city park, but has rejected Summum's request.