The Instigator
johannesjones
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
jjmd280
Pro (for)
Winning
30 Points

Pleasant Grove City vs. Summum (a first amendment case)

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/13/2008 Category: News
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,225 times Debate No: 5958
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (9)
Votes (5)

 

johannesjones

Con

If my opponent or any readers is not familiar with this case, they may cut and paste this link and pick their sources. <http://www.google.com...;

I side with Pleasant Grove City, and pick the con label because the current ruling (from the 10th circuit in the US court of appeals) sides with Summum. The case concerns the right of Pleasant Grove City to display the ten commandments in a public area (Pioneer Park), while denying Summum their request to have their 7 aphorisms on display in the park.

I will devote a paragraph to make sure everything is clear. For all intents and purposes in this debate, there are 2 options: 1) Pleasant Grove City must display the aphorisms of Summum or take down the ten commandments, and 2) Pleasant Grove City may display the ten commandments and not the aphorisms. I side with 2 and my opponent must side with 1. Good Luck and thank you to my opponent for accepting.

My points:
1) The 7 aphorisms proposed by Summum lack relevance to the park. The ten commandments were an important part of the ideas adhered to by the pioneers referenced in the park's name. They are a part of the character of the park, representing the ideas that it is trying to portray. Summum was incorporated in Utah in 1975 <http://www.summum.us...;. This comes far after the period of time that is the focus of the park.

2) A city selecting which monuments it will erect in a public park does not constitute "abridging the freedom of speech" (1st Amendment, Bill of Rights). A monument's religious value does not inhibit its historical and artistic value. The religious value is not the expressed focus of the monument. There are thousands of religions the size of Summum. Pleasant Grove need not to chose between leaving its park open to all of their monuments or taking down the monument it selected for the park.

3) The first amendment states that "congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion". Erecting a monument hardly constitutes making a law respecting Christianity. The city may decide what is best for the park, and what monuments are acceptable.

Bill of rights can be accessed here:
<http://www.archives.gov...;
jjmd280

Pro

Thank you to my opponent for a most interesting topic of debate. I agree with his description of the case, and will now present my case.

First, I must say - the religion of Summum is weird. First off, having been founded in 1975, it violates my own base-line spiritual rule: "Never believe in any faith younger than you are." But as is true with most faiths, we must remember the First Aphorism of Religion Cases: Only the religious convictions of other people are weird. Yours are perfectly rational.

The fact is, The more zealously the city claims ownership of its Ten Commandments monument, the more it looks to be promoting religion in violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause.

Chief Justice John Roberts puts it this way: "You're really just picking your poison. The more you say that the monument is 'government speech' to get out of the Free Speech Clause, the more you're walking into a trap under the Establishment Clause. … What is the government doing supporting the Ten Commandments?"

Rebuttals to my opponents arguments -

1 - The Ten Commandments are being displayed as "civic history", not for religious reasons? Then where's Hammurabi's Code, the Corpus Juris Civilis, the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, or the US Constitution (you know, the thing which outlaws government establishment of religion)?
How is it that with the myriad of "civic history" that's much more relevant to legal development than the Ten Commandments, these Christians always end up showcasing the one document alleged to be dictated by "God" and telling us to have no other gods but Him?

I mean, come on, we all know that "civic history" is an excuse -- a lie. A lie made deliberately, because the defenders of this know they're breaking the fundamental law of the land. The know they're law breakers, they know they're liars, but, hey, it's for their God so that makes everything a-OK, and furthermore, now it would impolite and intolerant of us to expose their lying, because hey, they're Good Christians™. This makes Christians look like hypocrites, especially given that Jesus told you to render unto Caesar and pray in secret.

2 - Pioneer Park is a public Park, supported with tax dollars. -
Monuments can be construed to endorse state establishment of religion. The Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, went further. "If government creates an open forum it can't pick and choose among religions. Government officials could have avoided this controversy by refusing to put up the Ten Commandments in the first place." Oh, and beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Speaking for myself, walking up to this monument as a layperson, I would recognize it immediately for what it is - The 10 Commandments.
Example of monument in question -
http://upload.wikimedia.org...

3- "Erecting a monument hardly constitutes making a law respecting Christianity."
No, but refusing Summum does. That is what this case is about - not the legality of the city's monument, but the legality of refusing to place Summum's.

"The city may decide what is best for the park, and what monuments are acceptable"
No matter the name of the park, no matter it's history - the fact remains that it is a PUBLIC park, that is supported with tax dollars. Being so, it is seen as a public forum, and having this type of overt endorsement of Christianity on public grounds it tantamount to establishment.

I look forward to the next round.

http://www.acslaw.org...
http://writ.news.findlaw.com...
http://www.religioustolerance.org...
Debate Round No. 1
johannesjones

Con

johannesjones forfeited this round.
jjmd280

Pro

Bringing Round 1 forward.
Debate Round No. 2
johannesjones

Con

Thanks for the rebuttal.

My opponent mentioned that Summum is "weird". I would like to make it clear that this is not a part of my case.

Justice Antonin Scalia said this "I suppose it depends on what the Government speech consists of, what it is the Government is saying about the Ten Commandments. If the Government is saying the Ten Commandments are the word of God that's one thing, and if the Government is saying the Ten Commandments are an important part of our national heritage, that's something else." I affirm the implied statement here, which is that "something else" is something legal. <http://www.supremecourtus.gov...;

Furthermore, the case in this debate, the one that the Supreme court will hear, does not regard the establishment clause. Summum's case regards their free speech to display the Aphorisms in a public place. The government owns the ten commandments monument, it was given by a private organization, but it is the speech of the government.

Pleasant Grove Attorney Jay Sekulow cited the ten commandments on display in the supreme court as an example of public display (by the government) of religious content. Justice Ginsburg argued that this was in the context of many other examples of legal code. The ten commandments on display in Pioneer Park are similarly in the context of 15 other historical monuments. My opponent lists documents that he says are "more relevant to legal development than the ten commandments". The park is more centered on the social development of the region when it was first settled then legal development. (Also, I think there is a strong basis for argument that the ten commandments are at least as relevant to legal development as the Magna Carta, Hammurabi's Code, and the US constitution, etc.)

My opponent presumably refers to Mathew 6 in the New Testament ( http://www.biblegateway.com...) when he says that the supposed Christians are hypocrites. This is irrelevant. Jesus was referring to showing off devotion to God in order to be thought religious.

This case sets the precedent that the existence of religious content in something that a government displays in public makes it inappropriate. My opponent is of the opinion that Pleasant Grove City Utah is obviously just promoting their religion. The ten commandments on display has no evangelistic value, nor are monuments called for in the Christian faith. The city has other reasons. Siding with Summum says that principled political correctness trumps relevance as far as what a government is allowed to display.

Also, rejecting Summum's claim to a right to display the Aphorisms is in a public park is not a violation of the free speech clause in the first amendment. The government did not build the park as an open forum for expression, nor are the ten commandments meant as a means of religious expression. They serve a themed purpose, one that the Aphorisms do not fit into.
jjmd280

Pro

It is unfortunate that my opponent missed R2 - for I have a feeling he may have some things to say about my following statements. But, alas...My closing arguments.

My opponent states in his first argument that the 10 Commandments monument does not constitutes making a law respecting Christianity. He uses this as one of his primary supporting statements. In my rebuttal, I state it constitutes exactly this. Now he backtracks and states-

"Furthermore, the case in this debate, the one that the Supreme court will hear, does not regard the establishment clause. Summum's case regards their free speech to display the Aphorisms in a public place. The government owns the ten commandments monument, it was given by a private organization, but it is the speech of the government."

I beg to differ.

True, the case has not been tried as an Establishment Clause case ; rather it is a Free Speech Clause dispute. But that distinction did not dissuade the Justices, from the earliest point in the argument, from pressing questions about whether the city's embrace of the Eagle' granite donation was a form of endorsement of its decidedly religious message.

Jay Alan Sekulow, the Washington, D.C., lawyer for the Utah city, had barely begun his argument when Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., told him:"You're really just picking your poison, aren't you? I mean, the more you say that the monument is Government speech, to get out of the Free Speech Clause, the more it seems to me you're walking into a trap under the Establishment Clause."

My opponent states-
" My opponent lists documents that he says are "more relevant to legal development than the ten commandments". The park is more centered on the social development of the region when it was first settled then legal development. (Also, I think there is a strong basis for argument that the ten commandments are at least as relevant to legal development as the Magna Carta, Hammurabi's Code, and the US constitution, etc.)"

IF this is a monument to "social" development, then where is the statue of Joseph Smith holding the Book of Mormon?
By the way, if the 10 Commandments were as vital to legal development as my opponent states, why is it our laws only reflect 3 of said 10?

My opponents whole argument stems on his assertion that the Ten Commandments are NOT a tribute to the Christian religion. It sure sounds like the City is trying to water down the religious significance of the Ten Commandments in order to push wider dissemination of the Ten Commandments.
I must deny thee to defend thee.

Wow.

No matter if the city built the park as a public forum or not, it is one by virtue of being PUBLIC - where is it legal for everyone to go? Where do most protests occur? ON PUBLIC LAND.

The majority gets to promote its religion through government as long as it's dressed up to appear as history.
Debate Round No. 3
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by jjmd280 8 years ago
jjmd280
There we go - now to get some votes.
Posted by jjmd280 8 years ago
jjmd280
I will bring my points forward - we can just make this a 2 round debate.
Posted by jjmd280 8 years ago
jjmd280
OK - no problem.
Posted by johannesjones 8 years ago
johannesjones
So sorry. I didn't want to rush my response and accidentally went over time. If you, jjmd, have any more points to make i guess you can use round 3 for that and then i'll respond to finish the debate.
-Johannes Jones
Posted by elgeibo 8 years ago
elgeibo
Go get him jjmd!

Unless Con does an amazing job, Pro has this already in the bag. Although separation of Church and state is a fallacy, the government supporting one faith while dashing another would fall squarely on the implementation of a public religion.

Are the Summum's a bunch of kooks? Yes! Does that give us the right to ignore the law? No.
Posted by jjmd280 8 years ago
jjmd280
OK - I'll take this one. I wanted to before, but I like to concentrate on one debate at a time - I'm old, after all;-)
Posted by LightC 8 years ago
LightC
Interesting debate, I will be watching this one.
Posted by johannesjones 8 years ago
johannesjones
thanks a million. its fixed now
Posted by Grund 8 years ago
Grund
I think you have your 1's and 2's swapped. Don't you want the 2 side and your opponent the 1 side?
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Vote Placed by n7 1 year ago
n7
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