Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Main Street Plaza -- 7 years later it is finally over.

Today the deadline for the ACLU to appeal the Main Street Plaza decision runs out. The DesNews published a story recalling the issue and the divide it seemed to create among residents of the state at that time. Although the issue is one that irritated me, being an oversensitive Mormon, I have to admit Rocky Anderson may have been roasted more than he deserved over the issue. It seemed (and many felt screwed) that the city was dealing unfairly with the church, however Deedee Corradini and the LDS Church could have, and likely should have included the easement with the original purchase. Anti-Mormon or not, Rocky Anderson likely just saw (and took advantage) an opportunity to get more out of a poorly executed transaction. After all he is a lawyer.

One interesting thought came from Dani Eyer, executive director of the ACLU's Utah chapter. Eyer said, " 'I guess the question I have at the end of it is, did this exacerbate the religious divide or was it an interesting civic dialogue?" Eyer said. "Instead of talking about basketball, people talked about the meaning of the Constitution and the value of the First Amendment (and) whether there is value in protecting a majority from criticism. I said it over the years, but I still maintain that this community conversation was healthy.' " Okay I'll bite. It is good that people talk about the constitution and think about the meaning of the rights therein. However, it seems rather petty for the ACLU to rear its ugly head in a case where the intent of both parties was rather obvious. The Church bought the land with the intent to make it into a solemn place near a sacred site of the religion, it was clear that the Church's control of behavior on the plaza was an important issue in the deal. The city sold the property, and the ACLU rears its head in a lawsuit where the ACLU showed once again its constitutional philosophy that freedom of speech trumps freedom OF (not from) religion.

Are debates about constitutional freedoms necessary? Yes. However long protracted court battles are hardly the most effective places to have these debates. Fine, we had the discussion, everything said and done the original intent of the deal between the city and the church stands -- except from more land became involved. However, the original deal's cost increased by several thousands of dollars in legal fees for the city and the LDS church, shouldn't the ACLU be required to repay the city and the church their legal fees. I'd argue, everything said and done, this was a frivolous suit (like many the ACLU files) maybe if the ACLU had to repay legal fees of defendants they would be less likely to file lawsuits against 501(c)(3) charities.

1 comment:

Bradley said...

Your post reminded me of a comment I posted elsewhere a few months ago:

In a move that would have been funny if the ACLU weren’t so prominent in constitutional law, they abbreviated the 1st amendment. From their website circa January 2005: “It is probably no accident that freedom of speech is the first freedom mentioned in the First Amendment: ‘Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.’ The Constitution's framers believed that freedom of inquiry and liberty of expression were the hallmarks of a democratic society.” (archived copy) The part they abridged reads, “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or”. I suspect the mistake was made by an overzealous marketing type rather than a lawyer, but it remained on their site (according to the Way Back Machine) from Oct. 17 2002 through Jan 2005. Surely some of them read their own website, right?