Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Greater Than the Summum of Its Parks

For once, I actually agree with Samuel Alito. Okay, the whole court agreed with him.

Today's ruling overturned a lower court's ruling that the Summum loonies could not force Pleasant Grove City, UT to stick their monument in the city's park, right next to the Ten Commandments monument that's already there. I'm down with this. They shouldn't be forced to put up monuments by anyone, regardless of their level of looniness. But there's something left unsaid in the NYT article linked above. What the hell is a Ten Commandments monument doing there in the first place?

That's really the point of the Summum lawsuit. I'm sure they don't think there should be a Ten Commandments monument in a public park. But if there is, why the hell should we not be represented? Fair enough.

So is anyone now saying we should knock down the TC rock? Here's what Alito himself had to say, as paraphrased in the Times.

Not that government, through its officials, can say whatever it wants whenever it wants, Justice Alito observed. For one thing, government expressions must not violate the First Amendment’s ban on endorsement of a particular religion. Moreover, what government officials say may be limited “by law, regulation, or practice.”

Right. So, what you're saying is that the existence of the existing piece is a violation of the Constitution. If the Commandments stay, in other words, you need to let in the Summums and the Muslims and the Hindus and the Zoroastrians.

I realize that this is another case for another day. (Like, tomorrow, maybe.) But they don't even mention it. Come on.


Mrs. Chili said...

Isn't this an example of slippery slope? Just because A exists, DOESN'T mean that B, C, D, and E must, as well.

MAB said...

Constitutionally, there are no slippery slopes. But the city seems to have set one up for themselves by having the TC monument there in the first place, which is in violation of the Constitution, by Alito's own tacit admission. The Constitution says there should be none, end of story. But if you let one in, you need to let them all in, so as not to favor one unconstitutionally. That's your slope and you can get off it by removing the original monument.