Government’s Monumental Speech

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2 Responses

  1. Venkat says:

    I’m surprised the subject of the last paragraph of your post received so little attention in the Court’s opinion.

  2. Robert Ahdieh says:

    Like Venkat, I’m perplexed by the seeming consensus (on the Court, in the blogosphere, and in individual conversations with scholars in the area) that Pleasant Grove is an Speech Clause case, and not an Establishment Clause case.

    I appreciate that the government’s placement of a monument in a park constitutes a form of government speech. For that very reason, though, it can equally be construed as an endorsement. Of course, this would only be true if (1) the relevant expression (i.e., monument) is religious in nature, and (2) such expression embraces one religion over another (i.e., includes one religious monument, while excluding another).

    Perhaps the theory is that there is self-evidently no Establishment Clause issue in this case. Given that a Ten Commandments monument was among the existing monuments in the park, though, that question would at least seem to warrant some discussion. That would seem even more true, given the long history of Establishment Clause cases involving religious displays in parks.