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SLC asks court to trim plaza suit

The Salt Lake Tribune, USA
Sep. 24, 2003
Mark Eddington • Wednesday September 24, 2003

Legal maneuvers in the American Civil Liberties Union suit over the Main Street Plaza continued Tuesday.

Latest in the legal tit for tat: Lawyers for Salt Lake City filed a memorandum in U.S. District Court reiterating their desire for federal Judge Dale A. Kimball to dismiss the ACLU’s complaint against the city, and Mayor Rocky Anderson as a defendant.

Salt Lake City’s lawyers argue in the 13-page memorandum that the ACLU’s lengthy complaint is “improperly burdened with superfluous editorial comment” and transition sentences that are gratuitous and prejudicial. The lawyers insist that any complaint should be confined to the city and not involve an elected official.

On Aug. 7, the ACLU filed suit on behalf of the Utah Gospel Mission, First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City, Shundahai Network, Utah National Organization for Women and Lee J. Siegel. The complaint alleges the city violated the First Amendment right to freedom of expression as well as the constitutional stricture against establishment of religion when it sold its right of way on the plaza to the LDS Church.

Salt Lake City responded with a motion for dismissal, prompting the ACLU to counter with its own legal memorandum. The latest filing is the city’s answer to the ACLU, essentially reiterating the arguments it made in its first motion to dismiss.

Dani Eyer, executive director of the ACLU’s Utah chapter, said, “Usually the courts don’t penalize plaintiffs for giving more information than the minimal requirement of notice.”

Salt Lake City officials declined to comment.

Limball has scheduled a Nov. 24 hearing to listen to oral arguments on Salt Lake City’s motion.

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