Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Public Park Not Public Forum for Donated Monuments

Supreme Court rejects free speech challenge to park displaying donated 10 Commandments monument but rejecting Summum 7 Aphorisms monument

The United States Supreme Court has unanimously decided Pleasant Grove City, Utah v. Summum. When Pleasant Grove refused to display in the park a monument with the Seven Aphorisms of the small religion known as Summum, which adherents offered to donate, event though the city park permanently featured eleven other donated displays including a donated Ten Commandments monument, Summum sued. They argued that the city was unconstitutionally restricting their speech because of its content in a public forum, i.e., in the park.

But the Supreme Court has now held that the permanent monument was government speech, and so not subject to free speech challenge. (The question of whether the city was violating the Establishment Clause by displaying the Ten Commandments monument was not in front of the Court.) The Court was unanimous, although Justice Breyer concurred in the 8-Justice majority opinion and Justice Souter concurred only in the judgment, both writing separately to emphasize that the Court should not be too categorical in its conclusion that all permanent monuments are government speech not restricted by the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Assembly Judiciary Committee Embraces Revision Argument

Supports H.R. 5, Rejects Proposition 8

Ron Buckmire, who blogs under The Mad Professah Lectures, has reported that the California Assembly Judiciary Committee has just voted 7-3 ("all Republicans voting no") to approve House Resolution 5, which condemns Proposition 8 as an improper attempted revision of the California Constitution that failed to follow the proper procedures. While H.R. 5 has no binding legal force, if the House were to adopt it, this would further demonstrate the state legislature's commitment to constitutional equality principles and could signal that a judicial decision invalidating Proposition 8 would not be a very countermajoritarian ruling.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Prop 8 Challenge Scheduled

Oral Argument Date Set

From the California Supreme Court web site: "The Supreme Court has announced that an oral argument will be held in the Prop. 8 cases on Thursday, March 5, 2009, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The court will issue a written opinion in the cases within 90 days of oral argument." The arguments will be carried on cable on the California Channel. The Court's news release is here.