Church May Control Speech on Pedestrian Plaza

January 2006
Planning;Jan2006, Vol. 72 Issue 1, p43
Trade Publication
The article reports that in the Utah Gospel Mission versus Salt Lake Guy Corp., case the 10th U.S. Circuit Court has ruled that Mormon Church has the right to control speech there. The church is the legal owner of a pedestrian plaza created on a block of Main Street Plaza. The Temple Square, which is one of Utah's biggest tourist attractions occupy the two blocks on either side of Main Street between North Temple and South Temple streets in Salt Lake City. The city sold the surface rights to that block of Main Street for $8.1 million in 1999. It was decided that the city will retain a public access easement to the pedestrian plaza. But it was found objectionable that the church could bar any public expression. A group of churches led by the American Civil Liberties Union brought a First Amendment suit in federal court, when it was ruled that the plaza was a traditional public forum and that content-based restrictions on speech were not valid. In 2003, the same group filed the case again and claimed that even after the sale of the easement, the plaza remained a public forum but the trial court granted the church's motion to dismiss.


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