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News Specialist Carole Mikita reportingThe Main St. Plaza controversy is surfacing again.
While the Salt Lake City Council studies the mayor's latest proposal on the Main Street Plaza, there are other behind- the- scenes legal maneuverings that are keeping the city attorney's office and the ACLU at odds with each other.
Aside from the public hearings and proposals to resolve this situation in the future, the American Civil Liberties Union says no one is dealing with the plaza 'here and now'. One of its attorneys says, a court has ruled and there are ordinances to obey.
On October 9th of last year, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled that any free speech restrictions on the Main Street Plaza are unconstitutional.
That ruling is just the beginning of a legal process that the ALCU says is now in limbo unnecessarily.
U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart now has to enter a judgment which tells the city to enforce the ruling.
Within the last 10 days, both attorneys for the city and for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have asked Judge Stewart to postpone a judgment until the matter is settled.
Stephen Clark/ACLU attorney "OUR BASIC POSITION IS THE CITY DOESN'T HAVE THAT LUXURY...THE 10TH CIRCUIT'S RULING IS CLEAR, THAT IT'S THE CITY'S OBLIGATION TO DEFINE AND ENFORCE APPROPRIATE REGULATIONS ON THE PLAZA... AND IT SHOULD DO SO IMMEDIATELY..."
Ed Rutan/Salt Lake City Attorney "THE CITY IS ABSOLUTLEY IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE 10TH CIRCUIT DECISION...THE 10TH CIRCUIT SAID THAT THE RESTRICTIONS THAT WERE IN THE SPECIAL WARRANTY DEED, WERE UNCONSTITUTIONAL AND COULD NOT BE ENFORCED BY THE CITY AND THE CITY IS NOT ENFORCING THOSE RESTRICTIONS..."
The ACLU says the city has more responsibility than that.
When protestors, like these evangelical street preachers, use bullhorns and scream at wedding parties, it's possible they are in violation of city ordinances. But because of uncertainty over the plaza, no one is currently enforcing any ordinances.
Stephen Clark "I THINK PEOPLE WOULD SEE THAT THOSE KINDS OF REGULATIONS CAN GO A LONG WAY TOWARDS ADDRESSING THE KINDS OF CONCERNS THAT PEOPLE, I THINK, LEGITIMATELY HAVE EXPRESSED...THE PROBLEM IS THAT THE CITY IS JUST KIND OF THROWING UP ITS HANDS AND SHRUGGING ITS SHOULDERS AND SAYING, 'WE DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO'..."
The city says its police officers do understand the ordinances, but can only do so much with this kind of public disturbance.
Ed Rutan "EVEN THOUGH SOMEONE ACTUALLY CALLED AND THE POLICE RESPONDED TO THAT CALL, THAT DOESN'T NECESSARILY MEAN THAT A COMPLAINT WAS MADE..."
There IS a little irony here, in that the ACLU is now arguing that obnoxious behavior on the plaza not only CAN, but SHOULD be regulated by police -- but that doesn't signal that the overall issue is any closer to resolution.
The proposed compromise is yet to be approved, and even if it is, the ACLU has indicated it may still protest settlement in court.