Summarized by Kent Larsen
LDS Church Opposes ACLU's Amendment To Main Street Lawsuit
Salt Lake Tribune 24Mar00 N1
By Joe Baird: Salt Lake Tribune
LDS Church opposes ACLU's amended lawsuit
Deseret News 25Mar00 N1
By Hans Camporreales: Deseret News staff writer
But S.L. attorneys aren't objecting to the plaza motion
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The complexity of the main street lawsuit
continues to grow. The LDS Church's attorney's filed a memorandum
Thursday opposing the American Civil Liberty Union's attempt to amend
its federal lawsuit against Salt Lake City and the LDS Church over
the sale of a block of Main Street by the city to the Church. The
ACLU is seeking to bolster its claim that restrictions in the sale
placed on the use of the property are unconstitutional, violating the
First and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The amended
lawsuit also argues that the city's administrators obscured facts and
skirted city processes to push through the sale.
But while the amendments to the lawsuit mainly deal with the city, it
was the LDS Church, rather than the city, that objected to the
amendment. In their memorandum, Church attorneys claim that the ACLU
"knew or at a minimum should have known" that the allegations in the
amendment should have been included in the original lawsuit. They
also claim that the amended lawsuit is "futile" because it challenges
the city's legislative process, and constitute's "a nonjustifiable
interference" with a legislative branch. "If there was indeed an
'administrative sleight of hand' by city staff to dupe the City
Council, that is a matter for the City Council to resolve."
ACLU attorney Stephen Clark says the response is "tantamount or
similar to a motion to dismiss. They're saying we don't have a claim,
and we shouldn't be allowed to scrutinize the details of this deal.
"I guess my reaction is, 'What are they afraid of?' If everything
was aboveboard and in the open, why all of the hand-wringing about
the plaintiffs' efforts to scrutinize what should have been an open
and public process?"
Clark also expressed surprise at the Church's opposition to the
amendment. "I think it's very interesting that the city doesn't
defend itself but relies on the hired guns from the big outside law
firm to come in and make their arguments for them," Clark said. "I'm
really just clarifying and strengthening the (constitutional
establishment-of-religion clause) claim principally based on my
review of documents that were produced after the filing of the
original complaint by both the city and the church."
The ACLU has until April 12 to file a response to the Church's objection.