- The Washington Times - Monday, March 2, 2009

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver should be chagrined by a sensible and unanimous Supreme Court decision rejecting the circuit court’s fuzzy thinking regarding the First Amendment. The circuit court had ordered Pleasant Grove City, Utah, officials to allow a small religious group named The Summum to erect its “Seven Aphorisms” granite marker in a local park because the park was home to a Ten Commandments display and thus this was a free speech matter. Baloney, Justice Samuel Alito said (in more judicious language).

All of the Supreme Court justices agreed, although four different concurring opinions set out differing views on the scope and consequences of the decision. Alito noted that people distributing literature eventually go home and long-winded speakers eventually end their remarks, but monuments endure. “Cities and other jurisdictions take some care in accepting donated monuments,” which help define a city’s identity, he said. “It’s hard to imagine how a public park could be opened up for the installation of permanent monuments by every person or group wishing to engage in that form of expression.”

Exactly so. The National Mall, for example, would look like a crowded Arab souk. For at least once, simple common sense that things like a Ten Commandments monument can be government speech without conveying a religious message has prevailed over the insatiable moral-equivalency and entitlement thinking that has seeped into public displays as in many other areas of American life.

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