Nov 18, 2008

Sekulow awaits Supreme Court decision on free-speech case

by Drew Menard

Jay Sekulow, on a quest to preserve liberty, presented his oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday Nov. 12, on behalf of Pleasant Grove City. The case, Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, will likely impact how future free-speech cases are ruled.

“The case will have a significant impact on free-speech cases,” said Liberty School of Law Dean Mathew Staver.

Summum is a cult religion that demanded its monument be placed right next to another monument, which displays the 10 Commandments, at Pioneer Park in Pleasant Grove City Utah. The park holds numerous monuments depicting aspects of state and city history.

The specific monument was donated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1971, a group that had a history with the community, unlike Summum, according to Sekulow.

Pleasant Grove City denied Summum the request and Summum retaliated by filing suit, claiming the city turned a public forum into a venue for private speech.

“A city’s selection of which items to display in a park – like its selection of decorations for government buildings – is government speech, and no private entity can claim a ‘me too!’ right of access for its own preferred displays,” according the Sekulow’s case briefs.

Summum was denied its claim in the lower courts but the Tenth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the ruling.

“If the Tenth Circuit decision stay(s) in place, next to the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island in New York could be erected a Statue of Tyranny,” Sekulow said.

Sekulow is the chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). He represented Pleasant Grove city before the Supreme Court as its chief advocate. The city hopes the Supreme Court will overturn the ruling of the appellate court.

“I’m very optimistic that we are going to see a successful conclusion to this extremely important case,” Sekulow said in his trial notebook.

Sekulow practiced his oral argument for the case at Liberty University School of Law in the Supreme Courtroom two weeks prior to his appearance at the Supreme Court.

Staver and a team of six law professors and two constitutional lawyers spent hours reviewing the case in order to play the part of the nine chief justices in a “moot court.”

Sekulow and Staver are good friends and have worked together on cases in the past, according to Staver.

“Moot courts are vital to making winning arguments,” Staver said. “Our students are therefore able to watch real cases with national significance right here on Liberty Mountain.”

The outcome of the case is anticipated to be announced in a court opinion sometime in the spring of 2009, according the


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