Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Pleasant Grove City v. Summum. The case centers on the refusal by Pleasant Grove City officials of a request by Summum, a religious group, to place a monument in the city’s park. The park already contains a monument of the Ten Commandments (donated by another private group) and the Summum wants to erect another that honors the “Seven Aphorisms of Summum,” which according to their beliefs, complements the commandments.
The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the religious group, stating that the government cannot permit one religious organization to place a monument (of religious meaning) in a public park, but refuse to allow another to do the same. That, it says, would be showing preference to one religion over another. Pleasant Grove officials however, supported by several federal, state and city governments, appealed the Tenth Circuit’s decision.
Pleasant Grove City v. Summum is the first of what could be two cases heard this term that touch on legal issues surrounding the placement of monuments with religious significance on public (government owned) land. See our early post on the government’s request that the Supreme Court reconsider the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Buono v. Kempthorne here.