SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service says it supports one of the last U.S. ski resorts to prohibit snowboarding in a court battle over a ban that snowboarders call discriminatory.
The decision by the Alta ski area to promote a snowboarder-free experience to lure skiers and keep them safe is a rational rule that violates no constitutional rights, attorneys for the Forest Service said in court arguments filed this week.
"Even if Plaintiffs established that they are similar to skiers and have been treated differently, they have failed to show that the federal defendants' treatment of them was irrational," Forest Service lawyers wrote.
Four snowboarders filed the lawsuit in federal court in January. They're claiming discrimination on national forest lands that make up most of the Alta ski area in the mountains east of Salt Lake City. The U.S. Forest Service was named as a defendant in a lawsuit, in which the snowboarders argue the ban violates the promise of equal treatment under the 14th Amendment.
The legal back-and-forth has reignited a long-festering culture clash on the slopes between skiers and snowboarders.
The new Forest Service brief comes a week after the ski area's lawyers said that the lawsuit degrades the U.S. Constitution and should be thrown out.
Jon Schofield, an attorney for the snowboarders, said both filings mischaracterize the complaint, confuse applicable law and avoid the fact that Alta discriminates against snowboarders based on an inaccurate stereotype. Schofield said they'll address the issues fully in an upcoming brief.
"Before bringing suit, we considered every issue raised in these motions, and we believe the case rests on solid legal ground," Schofield said.
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