Legal Battle Over Plaza in Utah Involves First Amendment Rights

October 27, 2002

Source: The New York Times

On October 27, 2002 The New York Times reported that "a... legal brawl involving the mayor and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints... over rights to a block of prime downtown land is almost certain to reach the United States Supreme Court in a test of First Amendment rights that also touches on the separation of church and state. At the center of the fight is the Main Street Plaza, a lovely block of flower beds and fountains that connects the main temple of the church's world headquarters and its main administration building. The site is the most popular tourist attraction in Utah, drawing as many as nine million visitors a year. But since the church bought the block from the city three years ago for $8.1 million, closing it off to vehicles but not pedestrians, the sides have wrestled over its control. Now the issue is headed for a third legal review, one step away from the United States Supreme Court."