Saturday, December 17, 2005

'The Behavior at Issue Here'

Reason editor and columnist Jacob Sullum offers some insight on Sam Alito, Supreme Court Justice nominee in "Sam Alito saves Christmas":

Alito deserves credit not so much for facing down the secular humanists as for fearlessly wading into the murky constitutional waters of government-sponsored religious displays. Confronted by questions like how many cartoon characters it takes to balance a baby Jesus, a lesser jurist would have thrown up his hands.

But not Judge Sam Alito. In 1999, as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, Alito was asked to decide whether Jersey City's display of a creche, a menorah, and a Christmas tree outside city hall, which a different 3rd Circuit panel had declared an unconstitutional endorsement of religion, could be saved by adding Kwanzaa ornaments on the tree, a red sled, and plastic Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman statues. Writing for the majority, he concluded that the new, busier exhibit was "indistinguishable in any constitutionally significant respect" from displays the Supreme Court had upheld.

Read the whole thing.

Sullum includes a look at the dissent, which wisely, if ironically, concludes that "the behavior at issue here is incapable of being guided."



At 9:54 PM, Blogger KJ said...

Sullum's point is a good one. The "establishment clause" was never meant to cover the recognition of society's holidays, which were for the most part religiously based, nor was it meant to require extensive fact finding by the Supreme Court. It is simply not met with Christmas displays. They do not establish a state religion which something more intrusive, like school prayer in class every day might.

At 6:34 PM, Blogger tee bee said...

They [Christmas displays] clearly infringe on the belief and devotions of the followers of the Bah Humbug faith, who are forced to consider the happiness of others, a point at odds with their central creed; indeed, they could argue that they are thus caused to blaspheme!


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