The city is arguing that once they accepted the first monument, the city adopted it as part of it's own free speech, and therefore are under no obligation to accept competing messages. As far as I can tell though, you can't have it both ways. Either this is free speech or it's not; either it's an unconstitutional establishment of a state religion or it's a public park open to other messages. The city's kind of in an impossible situation here- they have to argue that the 10 commandments display is not an establishment of state religion while also denying competing religions the right to a similar public forum.Here's the big issues in court today:
Though not directly at issue in the case, the establishment clause question lurked close to the surface in today's argument. Roberts said a declaration that the Pleasant Grove monument was government speech would make it harder for the city to argue that it wasn't favoring one religion over another.
``You're really just picking your poison, aren't you?'' he asked the town's lawyer, Jay Sekulow.
Justice David Souter said a high court ruling forcing the city to adopt the Ten Commandments message as its own would be fatal to the town's defense under the establishment clause.
``Isn't that what is driving this?'' he asked Summum's lawyer, Pamela Harris.
Harris said the city was trying to avoid having to formally subscribe to the particular version of the Ten Commandments on the park monument. She said the town ``wants to have it both ways.''