2.26.2009

Law Students Assist in Unanimous U.S. Supreme Court Win

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a landmark First Amendment ruling clearing the way for governments to accept permanent monuments of their choosing in public parks.

Regent Law students participating in the American Center for Law and Justice’s summer internship program played an integral role in the critical First Amendment case of Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, in which the ACLJ represented the Utah city in a challenge to a display of the Ten Commandments in a city park.



Click here for the ACLJ's full coverage of this victory, including the opening brief and the reply brief.

The critical question before the Court was, ''Can a city decide which permanent, unattended monuments, if any, to install on city property?''

Regent Law interns spent an intense summer in the ACLJ’s on-campus offices helping prepare ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow to answer this question. They edited legal documents; researched city policies regarding monuments, procedural histories, and Supreme Court justice’s views on government speech; drafted memos for oral arguments; and dissected complex court rulings.

Involvement in a U.S. Supreme Court case is an extremely rare opportunity for an attorney, let alone a law student. Regent Law ACLJ intern Joshua Bachmann notes, “The work we did is all part of the larger picture. A memo, a paragraph you wrote, or outline of an argument that you created is submitted and your legal argument shows up in the final draft. The work we’re doing has directly influenced judges’ opinions – it’s very satisfying.”

According to the ACLJ, this student- supported Supreme Court win represents a resounding victory for government speech, giving the government the right to speak for itself and the ability to communicate on behalf of its citizens.

It's a significant decision that clears the way for government to express its views and its history through the selection of monuments - including religious monuments and displays. This decision also puts a bookend on the litigation surrounding the display of the Ten Commandments that's been taking place for years across the country.

The Court's opinion is located here.

Meet Joshua Bachmann and other Regent Law ACLJ interns here.