ADL Welcomes U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Religious Display Case
New York, NY, February 25, 2009 …The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) welcomed today's unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision in Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, which rejected the right of a minority religious group to permanently display its religious tenets alongside a Ten Commandments monument in a public park.
A longstanding advocate for church-state separation, ADL joined with several organizations in a coalition brief urging the Court to consider the case's church-state implications.
Marvin Nathan, ADL Civil Rights Chair, and Deborah Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director, issued the following statement:
With its unanimous decision today in Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, the U.S. Supreme Court has appropriately acknowledged that the display of monuments in public parks constitutes government speech. Although we believe the case was wrongly presented to the Court by the parties as a free speech case, it was significant that the Court noted, as part of its analysis, that when the government chooses monuments to display, it "must comport with the Establishment Clause" and cannot promote or endorse religion.
The Court's appropriately narrow decision does not disturb the bedrock constitutional principle that government may not favor one religion over another. While we believe that Pleasant Grove violated this principle by displaying the monument of the religion it liked while rejecting the one it disfavored, this important issue remains alive for adjudication on another day.
The case was an appeal of a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the city of Pleasant Grove City, Utah violated the speech rights of adherents of the Summum faith by rejecting their request to erect a "Seven Aphorisms of Summum" monument in the city's Pioneer Park, near a Ten Commandments marker that has stood in the park for 50 years.
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.