ADL Urges Supreme Court To Consider Church-State Aspect Of Religious Display Case
Update: On February 25, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Summum's effort to display a monument on public property. More
New York, NY, June 24, 2008 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has joined in a coalition brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in a case involving a minority religion's effort to display a monument on public property.
The religion, Summum, asked the authorities in Pleasant Grove City, Utah, which has an already existing Ten Commandments monument in its Pioneer Park, also to display a monument depicting the Seven Aphorisms of Summum, and the city refused.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Summum on free-speech grounds. However, the League's brief in Summum v. Pleasant Grove City, Utah asserts that the Court should also have considered the case's church-state implications by reaffirming that it is not the government's role to favor one religion over another, or to sanction the display of any faith.
"This case has been wrongly presented to the Court as a free speech case, when it should raise important questions regarding the separation of church and state," said Deborah Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director. "We are asking the Supreme Court to clear up some very muddy waters and to clarify that the lower courts should have used a more appropriate legal framework to analyze Summum's claims.
"When a religious group seeks to erect a permanent monument in a town park, it raises obvious questions. First, does the monument violate the separation of church and state? And second, does a city's decision to reject that monument -- perhaps motivated by animus -- represent an unconstitutional denominational preference if they have already displayed a majority's monument?"
ADL, a longstanding advocate for church-state separation, joined with several other organizations in the coalition brief, including American Jewish Committee, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, and People For the American Way Foundation.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.