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Tablets case in slow lane

Pleasant Grove Ten Commandments ruling may be over a year away

The stone Ten Commandments monument at Pleasant Grove's Pioneer Park was given to the city by the Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1971.
The stone Ten Commandments monument at Pleasant Grove's Pioneer Park was given to the city by the Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1971.
Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News

It may be at least another year before a decision in a federal suit against a display of the Ten Commandments on Pleasant Grove City property is set in stone.

Last August, after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower-court ruling upholding the constitutionality of the display in the city's park, the appeals court asked U.S. District Judge Bruce Jenkins to review the case in light of recent rulings handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Last June the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in two cases. One upheld a 10 Commandments display outside the Texas State Capitol because it was part of an array in which the display was not the focus. However, a display inside a Kentucky courthouse was struck down as appearing to endorse certain religious beliefs over others.

The 10th Circuit has instructed Judge Jenkins to apply the new rulings to the Pleasant Grove case. The Society of Separationists sued

the city in September 2003 over the display.

During a hearing Friday, Jenkins approved a schedule to re-hear the case with new motions to be filed by May of next year and with a pre-trial conference to take place as far back as September.

Attorney Brian Barnard, who represents the Society of Separationists, said essentially the 10th Circuit ruling means the suit will be sent back to square one, meaning a resolution will not take place any time soon.

Even if Pleasant Grove City prevails in this case, Barnard said, the city faces a second suit filed by the religious group Summum, which has asked that a monument displaying its Seven Aphorisms be erected near the 10 Commandments display. Given the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions, Barnard said this may prove a more difficult issue for the city.

Currently Barnard's suit against Duchesne city over a similar display is pending before the 10th Circuit.


E-mail: gfattah@desnews.com