Allegheny County v. ACLU

Time Period
7/3/1989
Description
Allegheny County v. ACLU (1989) provided the Supreme Court with an opportunity to rule on whether the placement of a religious symbol on government property by itself violated the Establishment Clause. The scenario in this case, in which a nativity scene was placed inside a courthouse in Pennsylvania, differed from that in Lynch v. Donnelly (1994) in that the nativity scene was not part of a larger display or surrounded by other symbols. The Supreme Court ruled that this violated the Establishment Clause. It also ruled that the display of a menorah alongside a Christmas tree in Pittsburgh did not violate the Establishment Clause, holding that the combination of the two symbols was a recognition of the winter holiday season and not an endorsement of Judaism and/or Christianity.
Interactive Timeline(s)
Prominent Religious Events and People in American History
Photographs

Nativity scene- Wikimedia Commons- photo by Man vyi

Allegheny County courthouse- Wikimedia Commons- photo by Jim Henderson (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Chief Justice William Rehnquist- US Department of Justice
Source(s)
Flowers, Ronald, 2005. That Godless Court? Supreme Court Decisions on Church-State Relationships, 2nd ed.. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
Web Page Contributor
Robert Martin
Affliated with: Assistant Professor, Southeastern Lousiana University

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