Supreme Court: Pleasant Grove City v. Summum

Summum, a religious organization, petitioned to the mayor of Pleasant Grove, Utah to place a monument in one of the city’s parks, citing the fact that the park already housed a monument to the Ten Commandments. However, the mayor denied Summum’s request because the monument did not “directly relate to the history of Pleasant Grove.” Summum filed suit against the city in federal court citing, among other things, a violation of its First Amendment free speech rights. The U.S. District Court for the District of Utah denied Summum’s request for a preliminary injunction. That ruling was reversed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and granted Summum’s injunction request. The Tenth Circuit held that the park was in fact a “public” forum, not a non-public forum as the district court had held. Furthermore, Summum demonstrated that it would suffer irreparable harm if the injunction were to be denied, and the interests of the city did not outweigh this potential harm. The injunction, according to the court, was also not against the public interest.

On Feb. 25, 2009, the Supreme Court ruled that Pleasant Grove did not have to accept the Summum monument just because of the existing monument to the Ten Commandments.

Case information

  • Summum

    Summum is a religion and philosophy founded by Claude Nowell in 1975. Contact through the website.

  • Oyez – Pleasant Grove City v. Summum

    Oyez page for the 2009 Supreme Court Case Pleasant Grove City v. Summum.

  • “Court denies a religion its monument in a park”

    Feb. 25, 2009, The New York Times article about the Supreme Court ruling in Pleasant Grove City v. Summum that a Utah city park did not need to put up a monument to a small Utah-based religion (Summum) just because it had a monument to the Ten Commandments.