Keeping the Government's Religion Pure: Pleasant Grove City v. Summum

Northwestern University Law Review Colloquy, Vol. 104, p. 46, 2009

Mississippi College School of Law Research Paper No. 2009-07

13 Pages Posted: 8 May 2009 Last revised: 29 Jan 2010

Christopher C. Lund

Wayne State University Law School

Date Written: May 7, 2009

Abstract

This short essay reviews the Supreme Court's recent decision in Pleasant Grove City v. Summum. The case addressed whether Summum, a religious group, had a right under the Free Speech Clause to put up a permanent monument of its Seven Aphorisms - its version of the Ten Commandments - in a local city park, given that the park already contained a number of other objects donated by various groups, including a more orthodox Ten Commandments display donated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles. The Supreme Court unanimously rejected Summum’s claim. This essay explains the background of the case, addresses the legal claims asserted by the parties, and discusses the Court’s opinion and its ramifications. It pays particular attention to the religious dimensions of the case, ones largely not explored by the Court.

Keywords: Free Speech Clause, government speech, public forum, viewpoint discrimination, religion, Establishment Clause, Free Exercise Clause, Summum, Ten Commandments

Suggested Citation

Lund, Christopher C., Keeping the Government's Religion Pure: Pleasant Grove City v. Summum (May 7, 2009). Northwestern University Law Review Colloquy, Vol. 104, p. 46, 2009; Mississippi College School of Law Research Paper No. 2009-07. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1401020

Christopher C. Lund (Contact Author)

Wayne State University Law School ( email )

471 Palmer
Detroit, MI 48202
United States
(313) 577-4046 (Phone)
(313) 577-9016 (Fax)

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