Court quotes Lennon to make a really poor point

Court quotes Lennon to make a really poor point

Court rules for Utah city in religious marker case

WASHINGTON — Governments that receive donations of Ten Commandments displays and other monuments for public parks are not compelled to take everything they are offered, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

The court said that a small religious group, the Summum, cannot force Pleasant Grove City, Utah, to place its granite marker in a park that has been home to a Ten Commandments monument for 38 years.

Officials do not violate free speech rights when they reject requests to display monuments, Justice Samuel Alito said in his opinion for the court.

“It is hard to imagine how a public park could be opened up for the installation of permanent monuments by every person or group wishing to engage in that form of expression,” Alito said.

The court reversed a ruling of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver that the city’s decision violated the Summum’s rights. The Salt Lake City-based group argued that a city can’t allow some private donations of displays in its public park and reject others.

Alito distinguished the Summum’s case from efforts to prevent people from speaking in public parks, which ordinarily would violate the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee.

The Ten Commandments marker, erected by the Fraternal Order of Eagles, is one of 15 permanent displays in the park.

Alito said that even long-winded speakers eventually conclude their remarks and people distributing leaflets at some point grow tired and go home, but monuments endure.

In addition, Alito said, private parties do not own the monuments that governments accept for display; the governments become the owners.

He acknowledged that government ownership of monuments cannot be “used (as) a subterfuge for favoring certain private speakers over others based on viewpoint.”

But he said monuments often convey multiple messages, and cited the Greco-Roman mosaic of the word “imagine” that was donated to New York’s Central Park in memory of the Beatles’ John Lennon.

Some people may “imagine” the music Lennon would have written if he had not been shot to death near the park, he said. Others may think about the words of Lennon’s song of the same name that imagine “a world without religion, countries, possessions, greed or hunger,” Alito said in an opinion that also included the song’s lyrics.

The state favored one religious viewpoint over another by placing the Ten Commandments in a public park, maintained by taxes, while not allowing the Summum monument. That is exactly why we have the seperation of church and state in this country. Exactly why.

“It is hard to imagine how a public park could be opened up for the installation of permanent monuments by every person or group wishing to engage in that form of expression,” Alito said.

Again, exactly why we prohibit the state from erecting or displaying the Ten Commandments…or quotations from the Koran. It seems that today is filled with folks just not understanding the plain law of the land. The court stated the entire concept rather clearly in 1947’s Everson v. Board of Education:

The “establishment of religion” clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the federal government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another…No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion.

Seriously, how could that be any clearer? You want to display a rock with your laws on it, put it in your front yard. But if you put it in a public park, and expect my taxes to pay for the upkeep of the monument or the land, then you are breaking the law.

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