Religious Symbols on Public Land

Not Challenged (photo: Scott Bonelli, Big Head Studio)

Pawtucket Creche (Lynch, 1984) "OK"

Allegheny County Creche (1989) "Not OK"

Allegheny County Menorah (1989) "OK"

Ten Commandments in Austin (Van Orden, 2005) "OK"

Ten Commandments in Courthouse (McCreary, 2005) "Not OK"

Summum Monument (Pleasant Grove, 2009) "Can keep out"

Mojave Cross (Salazar, 2010) "Trade OK"

Where do we stand?

1. Justice Kennedy is the swing vote in these cases today.
2.  Justice Kennedy did not view ANY of the displays above to be an unconstitutional establishment of religion.
3.  So what display would violate the Establishment Clause?:

"[T]he [Establishment] Clause forbids a city to permit the permanent erection of a large Latin cross on the roof of city hall . . . because such an obtrusive year-round religious display would place the government’s weight behind an obvious effort to proselytize on behalf of a particular religion”.
County of Allegheny v. American Civil Liberties Union, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter, 492 U. S. 573, 661 (1989) (KENNEDY, J)

Justice Kennedy on Prayer
Exploring Constitutional Law