After Arkansas House passed a Bill to block Satanic monument request, Satanist organization issues legal demand for public hearing

The Satanic Temple (TST), an organization which is offering a private donation of an 8 ½ ft 1.5 ton bronze Satanic monument to the Arkansas (AR) State Capitol Grounds in Little Rock, delivered a legal demand letter to State officials notifying them that AR could be subject to litigation if they deny the Satanists a public hearing. The letter comes just days after House Bill 1273, issued specifically to block the Satanist monument from having its due public hearing, passed in the House with a 91-0 vote. The Bill was penned by Sen. Jason Rapert whose efforts to erect a 10 Commandments monument on the Capitol Grounds first prompted TST to offer a “complementary contrasting” monument of their own. Invoking First Amendment protections, TST asserts that the AR Government opened the Capitol Grounds to privately donated religious monuments, and that the Government may not discriminate regarding religious expression by privileging one religion over another.

House Bill 1273 passed with an Emergency Clause “for the preservation of the public peace, health, and safety” and was intended to henceforth revise the standards for requesting a monument hearing. Some media outlets erroneously reported that TST’s monument proposal — already several hearings into deliberation, and with a pending public hearing — had been officially halted. However, TST legal counsel, Stu de Haan, informed AR officials by letter today that the new monument request standards — if approved by the Governor — cannot halt monument requests already in process, as to do so would be to apply the new standards retroactively, and illegally:

“To be clear, House Bill 1273, even if made effective immediately, can not be applied ex post facto to The Satanic Temple’s monument request, which is already in process,” the letter reads. “The procedural revision proposed by House Bill 1273 can only be legally applied to any and all monument requests submitted after its passage. The Satanic Temple, having expended significant costs including, but not limited to, travel, lodging, and architectural designs, in pursuance of following pre-existing protocols for private monument donations to the Arkansas State Capitol Grounds, reasonably expect that Arkansas will grant their monument request the public hearing it is due… Retroactive application of proposed Bill 1273 would give rise to numerous legal claims against the State of Arkansas at the expense of the taxpayers.”

The Satanic Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves is confident that AR will respect TST’s right to a hearing. However, he is disturbed by the events surrounding the proposal of Bill 1273. “Sen. Rapert is clearly abusing his public office and disregarding the Constitution he’s sworn to uphold as he attempts to advance his own viewpoint on public grounds while actively fighting to exclude others. Further, in attempting to block our monument request with an ad hoc Bill, revising monument deliberation standards while we’re already in the midst of deliberation, Rapert demonstrates a complete lack of basic legal comprehension and a failed elementary-level sense of appropriate process. Arkansas deserves representatives that both respect the Constitution and understand the basic principles and constraints of their Office.”

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