Oral argument in Pleasant Grove City, UT v. Summum

Yesterday, November 12, 2008 at the Supreme Court of the United States, Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow presented oral arguments on behalf of a little town in Utah regarding a municipality’s duties and abilities in the display of public monuments. Read more about the case at http://alliancealert.org/2008/11/12/oral-argument-in-pleasant-grove-city-v-summum/ or read on:

Via Scotus Blog:

At 10 a.m, the Court will hear argument in Pleasant Grove City, UT v. Summum (07-665), on whether donated monuments displayed in public parks qualify as private speech, thus requiring municipalities to display monuments from all other donors. Jay Sekulow of Washington, D.C., Deputy Solicitor General Daryl Joseffer will argue for the petitioner, and Pamela Harris of Washington, D.C., will argue for the respondent.

Scotus Blog also has an argument preview. How Appealing provides a number of links to relevant articles from the Deseret News (Pleasant Grove religious case in top court today), the Associated Press (High court hears dispute over religious monument), CNN (2 religious groups take battle over monument to Supreme Court), and NPR:

And today’s broadcast of NPR’s “Morning Edition” contained an audio segment entitled “Supreme Court Hears Religious Display Case” (RealPlayer required) featuring Nina Totenberg.

On Monday, Jay Sekulow provided this update.

UPDATE 1:30 PM: The ACLJ has posted an account of today’s arguments with links to their opening and reply briefs:

In oral arguments before the Supreme Court, Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), today urged the Supreme Court to preserve sound precedent involving the well-established distinction between government speech and private speech in a case that could force cities to either to dismantle a host of monuments, memorials, and other displays, including long-standing patriotic and historical displays, or else let all comers install privately owned monuments or displays, regardless of content.

The ACLJ is asking the high court to overturn a decision by the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit that ordered Pleasant Grove City, UT to accept and display a monument from a self-described church called Summum because the city displays a Ten Commandments monument donated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

The ACLJ contends that the Tenth Circuit made a serious error confusing government speech with private speech. In its briefs, the ACLJ argues that “a city’s selection of which items to display in a park – like its selection of decorations for government buildings – is government speech, and no private entity can claim a ‘Me too!’ right of access for its own preferred displays.”

UPDATE 3:00 PM: Via How Appealing, a link to the transcipt of today’s proceedings.

What you may not know is that the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) is located on the 4th floor of Robertson Hall at Regent University, and employs large numbers of Regent Law students and alumni – most of which have worked on the preparation for the Summum briefs, reply petition and arguments for the past nine months. This incredible opportunity of very hard work was rewarded by an opportunity to be present for the actual oral arguments yesterday morning if seating permitted. 

The greatest honor was made possible for four faculty members (myself included) to be admitted to the Court on motion by Mr. Sekulow, taking the oath to be admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States. 

After the arguments, nearly 150 students, faculty, attorneys and friends of the ACLJ were assembled at the public interest law firm’s offices in D. C. For more on that… see tomorrow’s post… 


High court hears dispute over religious monument
Associated Press, Mark Sherman, 11.12.2008

The Ten Commandments vs. The Seven Aphorisms
Real Clear Politics, Maggie Gallagher, 11.12.2008

Utah Case Presents High Court With First Amendment Issue, Just Not The One That Should Be Considered
American Constitution Society, Ayesha N. Khan, 11.11.2008

Wednesday: Oral argument in Pleasant Grove City, UT v. Summum
Alliance Alert, 11.10.2008

Click here to read a student perspective on the argument.

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