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Van Gorden v. Utah State Fair (2001)

08 November 2001 Published in Resolved Cases

Free Expression and Religion & Belief - In 1996, after years of being arbitrarily excluded from the Utah State Fair because fair patrons complained about the content of their religious message, Kurt and Cindy Van Gorden were allowed to set up a booth to display the religious books they publish. Unbeknownst to them, however, their contract contained restrictions not imposed on other vendors. Fair officials then used those restrictions as a pretext for shutting down the Van Gordens when fair patrons once again objected to their message.

They were accosted by fair officials and several officers from the Salt Lake City Police Department, and forcibly evicted. In September 1998, the ACLU of Utah and cooperating attorney Nathan Hult filed a lawsuit against fair officials and individual police officers for their unconstitutional and illegal actions. In November 2001, the ACLU was able to negotiate an amicable settlement that resulted in full compensation to the Van Gordens and a promise that they will be invited back to the Utah State Fair on the same terms and conditions as all other vendors.

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