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Main Street Controversy Not Over Yet

Main Street Controversy Not Over Yet


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Richard Piatt ReportingThe High court announced it will not hear an appeal from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in the Main Street Plaza case.

The Church was asking the court to reconsider a lower court ruling saying, free speech cannot be silenced on the plaza.

The ruling actually gives the mayor's land swap deal renewed significance. That will now move forward on its own merits--that is, unless another lawsuit challenges it.

It was cold, wet and quiet on the Main Street plaza today. The weather may have been a surprise, but the Supreme Court's decision was not. Not to a Church attorney. Not to the mayor. Not to the ACLU, which filed the original lawsuit in the case.

Dani Ayer/ACLU of Utah: "We think this is bedrock law, this is not new, unusual and groundbreaking law, so, not a big surprise."

In fact, the Church's request for an appeal recently became less relevant, since the Salt Lake City Council approved Mayor Anderson's land-swap deal.

That deal trades the plaza's public easement for west-side land and a community center.

Street preachers--exercising free speech rights on the plaza now, will soon be required to stand off the Church's property.

For both the Church and the Mayor, that resolution righted legal oversights made in the original deal.

Von Keetch/LDS Church Attorney: "Our first choice has always been the local resolution, and if it finalizes, it will solve the problem. The Supreme Court was always a second choice, and now it's not a choice."

Settling the issue has been long, and divisive. In fact, some would say a resolution is coming at a snail's pace. Especially since national ACLU attorneys are hinting at a legal challenge to the land swap, a move Salt Lake City's mayor strongly opposes.

Mayor Rocky Anderson: "I think they're so far off the mark, I think their theories are so far beyond any established law, I wish they would just go away and let us take care of this."

The national ACLU is not hinting at when it will decide whether to challenge the easement-swap deal.

In spite of that, the swap will take effect in about 35 days.

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