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Church Sues Brigham City over Free Speech Zones

The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah filed a complaint on Tuesday with Brigham City on behalf of the Main Street Church, a non-denominational Christian church, claiming that their First Amendment rights have been illegally restricted.

The church, located in Brigham City, complains the city’s free speech zone ordinance places undue restrictions on their right to distribute religious literature outside the new LDS temple in Brigham.

The city has barred members of the Main Street Church from using two public sidewalks outside the temple. In a statement Wednesday, city officials cited heavy traffic and accidents that have occurred on that block in the past.

ACLU of Utah legal director John Mejia says that, in this case, public safety concerns don’t trump free speech.

"But even if there are safety concerns, the city has to deal with those concerns in a way that also respects the First Amendment. And what they've chosen to do here is completely prohibit people from walking down the sidewalk. And we just think that that's wrong."

Mejia hopes Brigham City will ultimately stop enforcing the ordinance.