Top Court Hears Religious Monument Case

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If one Utah religious group has its way, a plaque dedicated to the teachings from extraterrestrials will soon join the Ten Commandments in a public park owned by Pleasant Grove City.

The Supreme Court heard arguments from both sides today, after taking the case up in October.

The Summum, whose 'Seven Aphorisms' teachings are based on knowledge they say come from extraterrestrial beings, attempted to donate the plaque in 2003. The group claims the Seven Aphorisms are "a more complete version" of the Ten Commandments.

Click play to hear more about this case from Jay Sekulow, with the American Center for Law and Justice, which represented Pleasant Grove City before the High Court.

However, city officials said 'thanks, but no thanks' to the display, prompting the Salt Lake City-based group to file suit. The Summum contend that the city cannot permit some private donations in its public park while spurning others.

Initially, a federal court ruled in favor of the city. But the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later overturned the decision, saying Pleasant Grove had violated the group's right to free speech.

Pleasant Grove, represented by the American Center for Law and Justice, disagreed.

"The First Amendment does not compel a government that takes ownership of one private party's point of view to embrace all others as well," the city argued in its brief.

The city worries that a judgment for the Summum would open the door for anyone - including hate groups - to erect displays in the park or to likewise remove long-standing monuments such as war memorials.

So far, more than 20 cities have thrown their support behind Pleasant Grove, filing friend-to-the-court briefs.

ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow argued that the circuit court's ruling would force the city to strip the public of any displays.

"[The ruling] ultimately would cause havoc for local governments, forcing them to remove long-standing and well-established patriotic, religious and historical displays to avoid being sued for failure to put up any and every other proposed monument to come along the pike," Sekulow said.

Sources: The Christian Post, The Associated Press

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