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In snowboarding ban appeal, Alta says it doesn’t discriminate against people — just things

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Posted at 2:09 PM, Jun 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-29 16:09:47-04

SALT LAKE CITY — In response to a federal lawsuit over Alta Ski Area’s snowboarding ban, the Utah ski resort insists it doesn’t discriminate against people, just equipment.

“Alta’s Equipment Policy makes no distinction as to ‘persons,’ only different ‘things.’ Importantly, anyone can ski Alta’s slopes. Therefore, Appellants’ challenge falls outside the Equal Protection Clause’s zone-of-interests,” lawyers for Alta wrote in court papers filed with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and obtained by FOX 13.

A group of snowboarders calling themselves Wasatch Equality have filed a federal lawsuit against Alta and the U.S. Forest Service, alleging a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause. Alta bans snowboarders from the slopes it leases from the federal government.

Wasatch Equality has claimed Alta’s ban shows “animus” toward snowboarders. But in their court papers, Alta claims they are not a protected class. The Fourteenth Amendment has been cited in cases of race, gender, national origin — and most recently in cases involving same-sex marriage.

“Anyone can wear a snowboard, rendering the alleged class without discrete boundaries and unidentifiable. Further, reference to intangible personality traits, and self-identification with a ‘snowboarding counterculture,’ provides no readily identifiable characteristics that would allow the Court to objectively determine if an individual is a ‘snowboarder’ or not,” Alta attorney Fredrick Thaler wrote.

Read the filing here:

Alta claims the case lacks merit and wants it thrown out. A federal judge last year rejected Wasatch Equality’s lawsuit.

In its response, the U.S. Forest Service said Wasatch Equality has failed to know the government had any involvement in Alta’s decision to ban snowboards.

“Wasatch Equality fails to meet the symbiotic relationship test because its complaint fails to demonstrate that the Federal Defendants have so far insinuated themselves into a position of interdependence with Alta that the decision to disallow snowboards was a joint decision between the Federal Defendants and Alta,” assistant U.S. Attorney for Utah Jared Bennett wrote.

Read the filing here:

Wasatch Equality and Alta have asked the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for oral arguments in Denver.