Federal appeals court asked to revive lawsuit over Alta snowboarding ban

Posted at 5:09 PM, Apr 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-23 22:58:33-04

DENVER — A group of snowboarders is asking a federal appeals court to revive its lawsuit challenging Alta Ski Area’s ban on snowboarding.

In court documents filed with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and obtained by FOX 13, the group “Wasatch Equality” seeks to resurrect its dismissed lawsuit against the ski resort and the U.S. Forest Service.

“Plaintiffs’ Complaint refuted the veracity and rationality of every purported justification for the Ban and explained that each justification was merely pretext for stereotypes, prejudices, animus, and irrational fears held by Alta’s ownership, management, and customers towards snowboarders and their ‘counterculture,'” the appeal states. “Indeed, the Ban was enacted specifically to disadvantage a group of people considered to be undesirable at Alta.”

The group has claimed Alta’s ban violates the Equal Protection Clause under the Fourteenth Amendment. In a ruling last year, U.S. District Court Judge Dee Benson dismissed their lawsuit and rejected what he termed Wasatch Equality’s “claim to have a constitutional right to snowboard at the Alta Ski Resort.”

In its appeal to the 10th Circuit Court, Wasatch Equality took issue with the judge’s phrasing.

“Plaintiffs recognize this case may seem unusual. However, despite numerous assertions by Defendants, the District Court, and others, Plaintiffs never have claimed a ‘constitutional right to snowboard’ or anything even remotely similar. And while Plaintiffs never have claimed that this case is equivalent to one alleging racial discrimination, the same underlying structural principle—ensuring fairness under law by demanding the government apply the same rule in similar situations—protects us all from irrational governmental decision making,” the appeal states.

The Fourteenth Amendment has been cited in cases of race, gender, national origin — and most recently cases for marriage equality.

Wasatch Equality’s appeal made reference to same-sex marriage cases (and the 10th Circuit’s ruling in Oklahoma’s appeal of same-sex marriage) as it spoke about the concept of “animus” or hostility — and applied it toward snowboarders.

Read the appeal here:

Wasatch Equality wants the 10th Circuit Court to overturn the judge’s ruling and allow their lawsuit to proceed. The U.S. Forest Service, which leases land to Alta Ski Area, as well as the resort itself, have fought the lawsuit.