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Equality Under the Law in Utah

Equality Under the Law in Utah

The lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union against the state of Utah for its arguably discriminatory statutes banning same-sex marriage is abuzz across local and national communities. Yet there is another suit that has been filed under the U.S. Constitution’s promise for equal treatment under the law: the age-old Skier v. Snowboarder. The East Valley Tribune gives a detailed report of the commentary surrounding the case, which ultimately hinges on the culture war on the slopes. In a spirited battle between consumers, the suit seems to be heating up in a very small sector of the public sphere and less between attorneys in Utah.

Alta Ski Resort Bans Snowboards

The Utah ski resort Alta was founded in 1939 and is one of the last remaining resorts in the nation at which snowboarding is off-limits. Taos in New Mexico was similarly ski-only until it caved to public pressure in 2009 and allowed boards on its mountain. The attorneys in Utah filing the suit claim that discrimination against snowboarders violates equality under the law, especially when much of Alta’s slopes lie on national forest lands, and the U.S. Forest Service has been named as a defendant in the lawsuit. The suit alleges Alta dislikes snowboarders for their supposedly reckless skiing, inconsiderate attitude and their use of slang words in description of terrain. Such discriminatory practices are unethical and violate equality under the law on public land, attorneys in Utah claim.

But much of commentary on the lawsuit is unfolding in the public realm, especially over the internet. News of the lawsuit exploded on Utah newspaper websites, and readers didn’t hesitate to submit innumerable comments, sparking a heated, passionate debate about the issue. Such comments from skiers read: Snowboarders “ruin all the snow” by scraping it down to ice; they “don’t watch where they’re going”; and they “stop in the middle of the hill and sit down! What’s up with that?” Others argue that snowboarders’ sideways stance leaves them with a large blind spot that can make wide, sweeping turns a danger to others on the slopes.

Should Everyone Be Equal?

David Quinney, one minority owner of Alta, asserts his preference for the resort to remain ski-only, and says that as a business, they have a right to refuse anyone. Attorneys in Utah cite the public land in the resort as a potential snag for that argument, but Quinney sees it as a different story. Saying snowboarders see the hill as “forbidden fruit,” making them want what they can’t have and insisting that the mountain’s terrain requiring hiking, climbing and traversing isn’t conducive to snowboarding, Quinney is prepared to stand his ground. It’s not about the culture war, he argues; it’s an issue of safety.

Attorneys in Utah filling suit will appeal to a judge to recognize snowboarders’ claim to equal rights to use Alta’s national forest land under the law, and agree that snowboarders have been “perhaps rightfully” stereotyped as riffraff decades ago by skiers. The debate goes on and probably will go on until at some point, all are considered equal in Utah.

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It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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About the Author

People who want a lot of Bull go to a Butcher. People who want results navigating a complex legal field go to a Lawyer that they can trust. That’s where I come in. I am Michael Anderson, an Attorney in the Salt Lake area focusing on the needs of the Average Joe wanting a better life for him and his family. I’m the Lawyer you can trust. I grew up in Utah and love it here. I am a Father to three, a Husband to one, and an Entrepreneur. I understand the feelings of joy each of those roles bring, and I understand the feeling of disappointment, fear, and regret when things go wrong. I attended the University of Utah where I received a B.A. degree in 2010 and a J.D. in 2014. I have focused my practice in Wills, Trusts, Real Estate, and Business Law. I love the thrill of helping clients secure their future, leaving a real legacy to their children. Unfortunately when problems arise with families. I also practice Family Law, with a focus on keeping relationships between the soon to be Ex’s civil for the benefit of their children and allowing both to walk away quickly with their heads held high. Before you worry too much about losing everything that you have worked for, before you permit yourself to be bullied by your soon to be ex, before you shed one more tear in silence, call me. I’m the Lawyer you can trust.