Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
John Daley reporting The controversy over Salt Lake's Main Street plaza has apparently caught the attention of the Supreme Court. But justices have not agreed to hear the case yet.
That may be because they're waiting until after a decision is made on a similar case.
Reading the Supreme Court can be like reading tea leaves. But we know the Supreme Court justices discussed this case during a conference on Thursday.
Monday, it was not on a list of cases either granted or denied. What that means is the Court might, or might not, take the case up later.
If nothing else,the Main Street fight pitting freedom of speech against freedom of religion has been a fascinating civics lesson.
What started as a local debate is now on the doorstep of the nation's highest court.
The justices of the Supreme Court essentially put the case on hold Monday. Legal observers believe that may be because the court first wants to issue a ruling in a similar case out of Richmond, Virginia.
Alan Sullivan/ Attorney for LDS Church: "WE'RE IN A HOLDING PATTERN. IT'S NOT GOOD NEWS OR BAD NEWS. WHO KNOWS WHAT THE SUPREME COURT WILL ULTIMATELY DO?"
At the same time, the Main Street dispute is continuing to evolve in city government where Monday night, city council member Nancy Saxton convened a public hearing in hopes of exploring new options and to examine a key element of the debate she feels has been overlooked--free speech.
Nancy Saxton/ City Council Member: "VERY LITTLE OF THE CONVERSATION HAS REALLY DEALT WITH FIRST AMENDMENT WITH THE WHOLE ISSUE OF THE PLAZA, EVEN WHEN IT WAS INITIALLY BOUGHT AND SOLD. BUT THAT'S THE PIVOTAL PART THAT THE COURTS KEEP COMING BACK TO."
Saxton says the easement and pedestrain access are inseperably joined with the First Amendment's protection of free speech.
One new proposal Monday night comes from former city councilor Roger Thompson. He voted for the original deal, which went awry.
Now he suggests the south end of Plaza be turned into a free speech zone, while the rest would be private Church property.
Roger Thompson/ Former City Council Member: "I THINK PERHAPS WE'RE LEARNING THAT WE SHOULD DISCUSS THESE ISSUES BEFORE THE EVENT TAKES PLACE. EVERYBODY SHOULD REALLY UNDERSTAND WHAT'S IN THE DEAL."
The city council is expected to take a vote on the mayor's compromise proposal next month.
The next thing to watch is when a ruling comes down in the Hicks case--language in that ruling could have implications for this case.