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For week ended December 12, 1999 Posted 18 Dec 1999

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City answers ACLU's Main Street suit

Summarized by Kent Larsen

City answers ACLU's Main Street suit
Deseret News 8Dec99 N1
By Alan Edwards: Deseret News staff writer

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Attorneys for Salt Lake City filed an answer to the ACLU's lawsuit challenging the terms of the sale of Main Street to the LDS Church on Tuesday, the filing deadline. In their answer, the city attorney Roger Cutler says that the terms of sale give up the use of the property as a public forum in exchange for the $8.1 million sale price.

"(The sale) included an acknowledgement that, notwithstanding the right to public access, the property would not be considered to be a public forum, limited or otherwise," wrote Cutler in his answer. He also points out that the city has sold many streets to private parties, and closed streets "at the request of the Baptist, Catholic and Lutheran churches. This street closure followed all of the same procedures used for all other street closures."

ACLU attorney Stephen Clark responded to the brief in the Salt Lake Tribune on Wednesday, saying, "They still don't get it. Main Street either is a public forum or it isn't. And a city can't sell the public's constitutional rights on Main Street. No new constitutional ground needs to be plowed here."

The ACLU, in filing the lawsuit, claimed that the property is a "public forum" even though it might be privately owned, citing cases that support its contention. But Cutler argued that the ACLU relied on cases whose facts differ too much from the Main Street situation.

The LDS Church's answer to the ACLU's lawsuit was filed with its motion to intervene. In the Church's answer, it says that if anything, the easement, the legal right granted to the city during the sale, should simply be eliminated, leaving the Church with the ability to eliminate public access to the area.

See also:

Freedom Second to Money For Main Street, Says SLC Salt Lake Tribune 8Dec99 N1 By Rebecca Walsh: Salt Lake Tribune

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