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U.S. Supreme Court takes a new 10 Commandments case

The Decalogue is on display in a public park in Utah. Is the park, therefore, a forum for expression of all types?

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Public displays of the Ten Commandments have long been a magnet for litigation. But a US appeals court in Denver has put a new twist on the issue.

Last year, the court told a city in Utah that since it allows the display of a Ten Commandments monument in a public park it must also allow followers of the Summum religion to erect a similar monument displaying the "Seven Aphorisms of Summum."

The ruling prompted an outcry by state and local officials and veterans who warn that the appeals court decision will force cities to either remove all monuments from public property or accept all privately donated monuments – including displays that might be offensive to residents.

On Monday, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear the case next fall to decide what restrictions, if any, cities and towns may enforce against the placement of private monuments on public property.

The controversy began in 2005 when the mayor of Pleasant Grove City, Utah, was contacted by the president of the Salt Lake City-based Summum church, who requested permission to erect the "seven aphorisms" monument near the city's Ten Commandments monument in Pioneer Park.

The Summum church teaches that the seven aphorisms were on the first stone tablets brought by Moses from Mount Sinai. According to the Bible, Moses smashed the first tablets. The Ten Commandments were later delivered on a second set of tablets.

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