Posts Tagged Summum

Most important free speech decision of the term

The Supreme Court will hear a case regarding display of religious monuments, and the case is centered right here in Utah. But you might be surprised at what a group wants to display in a Pleasant Grove park.

The New York Times calls it possibly the most important free speech decision of the term .

Thirty miles to the north, in Salt Lake City, adherents of a religion called Summum gather in a wood and metal pyramid hard by Interstate 15 to meditate on their Seven Aphorisms, fortified by an alcoholic sacramental nectar they produce and surrounded by mummified animals.

In 2003, the president of the Summum church wrote to the mayor here with a proposal: the church wanted to erect a monument inscribed with the Seven Aphorisms in the city park, “similar in size and nature” to the one devoted to the Ten Commandments.

The city declined, a lawsuit followed and a federal appeals court ruled that the First Amendment required the city to display the Summum monument. The Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear arguments in the case, which could produce the most important free speech decision of the term.

The justices will consider whether a public park open to some donations must accept others as well. In cases involving speeches and leaflets, the courts have generally said that public parks are public forums where the government cannot discriminate among speakers on the basis of what they propose to say. The question of how donated objects should be treated is, however, an open one.

I’ll refer you to the article to read more details of the issues. But, of course, there’s the usual quote from a local official discussing our closed culture.

Mr. Daniels said. “We’re looking at, Does it fit with the heritage of the people of this area?”

What think you, OneUtah readers, should the city be required to display the Seven Aphorisms in this case?

Photo credit: New York Times

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