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For week ended November 21, 1999 Posted 24 Feb 2001

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ACLU Sues Salt Lake City Over Sale

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 Main Street.''

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information