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Supreme Court takes two First Amendment cases

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] Monday agreed to hear two cases [order list, PDF] involving the First Amendment Monday, including Pleasant Grove City v. Summum (07-665) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], in which the Court will consider whether a private, religious group can donate a monument for display in a public park. Specifically, the Court must decide whether the situation implicates government speech or private speech under the First Amendment [text], and then reconcile whether the local government has the right to select which monuments it displays in the park or whether a public forum exists, thereby nullifying such a right. The US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled [opinion, PDF] in 2007 that the Utah park at issue constituted a public forum and that the privately-donated monument embodied the donor's private speech interests. AP has more.

The Court also granted certiorari Monday in Ysursa v. Pocatello Education Association (07-869) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], in which it will consider whether certain sections of the Idaho Voluntary Contributions Act [text] unconstitutionally abridge labor unions' free speech rights as related to payroll deductions for political activities. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled [opinion, PDF] in October that the Idaho statute, "as applied to local government employers, violates the First Amendment because it is a content-based law for which the State officials assert no compelling justification." AP has more. SCOTUSblog has additional coverage.

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