The U.S. Supreme Court will consider a free speech case in which Salt Lake City-based Summom church wants to place a religious monument in a Pleasant Grove, Utah, park.
Pleasant Grove officials have refused to allow the “Seven Aphorisms of Summum” to be displayed in the park, even though it is home to a Ten Commandments monument donated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles in the early sixties.
City officials asked the court to step into the lawsuit brought by Summum, saying that if the religious group prevails, governments would be inundated with demands to display donated monuments.
Pleasant Grove officials and the 10th U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver have ruled that donated monuments displayed by the city remain the private speech of the original donor. Summum claims that, because the monument is on public property, it is government speech creating a public forum.
“Government bodies are now sitting targets for demands that they grant ‘equal access’ to whatever comparable monuments a given group wishes to have installed, be it Summum’s Seven Aphorisms, an atheist group’s Monument to Freethought or Rev. Fred Phelps’s denunciations of homosexual persons,” lawyers for Pleasant Grove City wrote in asking the Supreme Court to intervene.
Last year Westboro Church founder Fred Phelps was denied by Casper City, Wyoming officials in his request to build a monument to Matthew Shepard. Phelps proposed a monument that would have been 5 to 6 feet tall and made of marble or granite bearing a bronze plaque with an inscription reading “MATTHEW SHEPARD, Entered Hell October 12, 1998, in Defiance of God’s Warning: ‘Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.’ Leviticus 18:22.”