A conservative news and views blog.

Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Can this help legally support Christmas & Hannukah displays?

Jack Kemp

I was just reading about the legal battle over Christmas and Hannukah public displays in Don Feder's 1998 book
"Who's Afraid of the Religious Right?" He brought up an interesting U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Just like the best time to buy Christmas cards is after the December 25th, the best time to plan for the protecting the right to religious displays may be right now.

I'm making the assumption that some of you will want to spend some of your free time away from following the Republican Presidential Nomination contest and concentrate some effort on stopping the ACLU from attempting to make you and your children ashamed of publicly celebrating Christmas or Hannukah. Perhaps by asking local candidates their opinion in this matter, you can draw out a Democrat (or a Republican) to give their view on this great cultural divide. And since I am not an attorney, I don't know if this Supreme Court decision I am about to mention is still considered a potent legal argument in favor of religous displays. Hopefully, some attorneys will read this and know the answer - and the answer will be positive.

Mr. Feder makes reference to a 1989 US Supreme Court case upholding a Hannukah menorah display in Pittsburgh. The case is County of Allegheny v. ACLU, 492 U.S. 573 (1989) In it, the Supreme Court said that the Allegheny County Court House could not display a creche on its grand staircase - but ruled that a large Hannukah
menorah could be displayed alongside a Christmas tree at the City-County Building. The legality of the the Christmas tree was not considered by the court. Wikipedia further clarifies:


A different majority held that the menorah display did not have the prohibited effect of endorsing religion, given its "particular physical setting". Its combined display with a Christmas tree and a sign saluting liberty did not impermissably endorse both the Christian and Jewish faiths, but simply recognized that both Christmas and Hanukkah are part of the same winter-holiday season, which, the court found, has attained a secular status in U.S. society.


I would argue - although I am not a lawyer - that since they allowed the Christmas tree to stand as a "secular holiday" symbol, they created a de facto ruling that endorses Judeo-Christian culture via a backdoor method. Even without is, in effect, de facto argument in favor of the tree, the fact that the Supreme Court specifically ruled that the named Hannukah menorah could stand, leads to a future argument that if the menorah could specifically stand, for someone else to argue in another juristiction to not allow an accompanying Christmas tree to stand would be religous discrimination against Christianity and the beliefs of the Founding Fathers and American culture.

Now there are obviously many aspects of this 1989 court decision that go way beyond what I know about the law.
I'm obviously advancing an pro-religious display argument, but that of a layman. An attorney reading this piece would think my argument is simplistic, be they in agreement or disagreement with my opinion. I plead guilty. However, I think there is something here to build a pro-religious display court case that an attorney and/or a local government administrator could use. Not ever town in America knows of this Supreme Court decision and what I write could be an inspiration to someone else to develop an better argument that could stop the ACLU from making our public buildings look like "The Ghost of Stalin Past" each December.

If citing this 1989 case still is of any value, please spread the word.

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by