In this case the Summum religious group offered to donate a monument containing the Seven Aphorisms of Summum, to be placed in a public park named Pioneer Park in Pleasant Grove City, Utah. This park has already at least 11 permanent, privately donated displays, including a Ten Commandments monument, which had been donated by the Fraternal Order of the Eagles. But, the city rejected the offer of the Summum religious group and while doing so it explained that it has limited Park monuments to those either directly related to the City's history or donated by groups with longstanding community ties. At this, respondent filed suit, claiming that the City had violated the First Amendment's Free Speech Clause by accepting the Ten Commandments monument but rejecting respondent's proposed monument. The District Court denied respondent's preliminary injunction request, but the Tenth Circuit reversed.
Finally the case was argued in Supreme Court on November 12, 2008 and decided on February 25, 2009.
The Summum group freighted its entire argument on following grounds:
1. Free speech theory – Rule against viewpoint discrimination. The group argued that because the City had accepted the Ten Commandments monument, it also had to accept the Summum monument; if it did not, it was discriminating.
2. Public forum doctrine – As public parks have been deemed public forum since time immemorial, the City could not refuse the monument. Governments must have an extremely good reason to reject any speech in a longstanding public forum.
3. Ratio of Rosenberger v. University of Virginia - In this case the Court had invoked the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to hold that a university may not refuse to fund a religious student organization (even if its primary activity is worship and proselytizing) if the university provides funds for other student groups.
The City claimed its decision to reject Summum's donation of the monument was driven by two criteria:
1. The monument had to have some relationship to the history of the City.
2. Private donations would only be accepted from those with close ties to the community.
In majority opinion of the Supreme Court written by Justice Alito, it was held that for purposes of the Summum monument the park was not a public forum and that the speech was not speech protected under the First Amendment because a permanent monument constitutes "government speech"; and that permanent memorials are in a category distinct from transient speakers for purposes of free speech analysis as this Clause restricts government regulation of private speech but not government speech.
In sum, US Supreme Court hold that the City's decision to accept certain privately donated monuments while rejecting respondent's should be best viewed as a form of government speech. As a result, the City's decision is not subject to the Free Speech Clause, and the Court of Appeals erred in holding otherwise and hence Appeal was allowed.