Monday, March 02, 2009

Supreme Court Remands Companion Summum Case To 10th Circuit

As previously reported, last week the U.S. Supreme Court decided Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, holding that Pleasant Grove City, Utah need not acccept a "Seven Aphorisms" monument for a local park. In the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals below, there was a companion case decided at the same time, Summum v. Duchesne City, which involved a more complicated version of the same sort of underlying dispute. In that case, the only display already in the city's park was a 10 Commandments monument, and the city attempted to avoid Summum's request by transferring the land under the Ten Commandments display to a private party. (See prior posting.)

A petition for cert. had been filed in this companion case as well, but had never been acted upon by the Court. (See prior posting.) Today, in a brief order (Docket No. 07-690), the Court granted certiorari, vacated the judgment below and remanded the case for further consideration in light of the decision in the Pleasant Grove City case. Interestingly, the Court has also granted cert. this term in a case involving land transfers in order to avoid Establishment Clause concerns. (See prior posting.) However the "government speech" holding in the Pleasant Grove City case may be dispositive in the case remanded today, regardless of the Court's resolution on land transfers.