Summarized by Kent Larsen
ACLU Sues Salt Lake City Over Sale
Associated Press 16Nov99 N1
By Hannah Wolfson: Associated Press Writer
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The ACLU followed up on its threat and filed a
lawsuit against Salt Lake City over the city's sale of a block of Main
Street between Temple Square and the LDS Church's headquarters block.
The lawsuit claims that the sale violated the U.S. Constitution.
As part of the sale, the city required that the LDS Church leave the
area, to be made into a pedestrian plaza, unfenced and open 24 hours a
day. The Church then placed a list of rules on the plaza, no smoking,
music, cursing, begging, bicycling or skateboarding. It also restricted
speechmaking, which gave the area the nickname "Soapbox Corner" at the
turn of the century.
Both the Church and the city say that the new pedestrian mall is private
property and that no rights are being violated.
While the city has sold many other streets to private parties, this one
is different, according to the ACLU. "It's Main Street, and that kind of
says it all,'' says ACLU attorney Stephen Clark. "The city has in effect
given the church a preferred platform right in the heart of the city
that is closed to everybody else. The church is free to use this
property to get its own message across, while other people are treated
basically as second-class citizens.''
City Attorney Roger Cutler says that this deal, which was concluded last
April for $8.1 million, is legal, but that it is perceived differently
because the LDS Church is involved and because of "the visibility of