Federal court asked to revive lawsuit over Alta’s snowboarding ban

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SALT LAKE CITY — A federal appeals court is being asked to revive a lawsuit filed against Alta Ski Area and the U.S. Forest Service over the ski resort’s historic ban on snowboarding.

In a petition with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, a group of snowboarders calling themselves “Wasatch Equality” ask the federal court to re-hear the case en banc, if necessary.

“Defendants’ portrayal of this case as being about some ‘constitutional right to snowboard’ has confused the state-action analysis and resulted in new procedural requirements that burden all future claimants, conflict with other circuits, and depart from directives announced by the U.S. Supreme Court,” Wasatch Equality attorney Jonathan Schofield wrote.

The group sued Alta and the U.S. Forest Service, who leases the land to the ski resort, arguing that the snowboarding ban violates the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by denying them access to the mountain. In April, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the lawsuit, but did not rule on the Equal Protection Clause aspect. Rather, it ruled Alta Ski Area could set limits on the land it leases from the federal government.

In their petition for a re-hearing, Wasatch Equality argues against dismissing the case.

“Moreover, the District Court created precedent that wrongfully prevents claimants from challenging any discrimination on federal land so long as the government claims the conduct relates to ‘a land-use decision,'” Schofield wrote.

The Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution has been frequently cited in discrimination cases involving race, religion, gender (and most recently same-sex marriage). In an interview with FOX 13 when the case was argued in Denver, Schofield, insisted he was not trying to get snowboarders declared a “protected class,” but press for equal access on government land.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has not responded to the petition, court records showed.

Read the petition here: