June 27, 2007

Religious Displays and the Courts

Significant Supreme Court Rulings

Stone v. Graham (1980)
The court ruled that a Kentucky statute requiring public schools to post a copy of the Ten Commandments in every classroom was unconstitutional.

Lynch v. Donnelly (1984)
The court ruled that a Pawtucket, R.I., Christmas display, which included a crèche as well as more secular symbols of Christmas, such as a Santa Claus and reindeer, was permissible.

County of Allegheny v. ACLU (1989)
The court struck down a Christmas crèche displayed alone inside a courthouse in Pittsburgh, Pa., but upheld the same city’s broader holiday display that included a Christmas tree and menorah.

Capitol Square Review Board v. Pinette (1995)
The court ruled that Ohio officials were wrong to deny the Ku Klux Klan the right to place a large cross on a public plaza where displays by private citizens were permitted.

McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky (2005)
The court ruled that the placement of framed copies of the Ten Commandments in courthouses in two Kentucky counties was unconstitutional.

Van Orden v. Perry (2005)
The court ruled that a monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments on the Texas state Capitol grounds was permissible.

Photo credit: Corbis