Creche Controversy

December 24, 1999

Source: The New York Times

On December 24, 1999, The New York Times reported that federal judge Alfred M. Wolin of the United States District Court in Newark denied a motion brought by the ACLU against Wall Township in New Jersey to dismantle a holiday display on public property. In a public courtyard next to the municipal building in Wall Township, there is a Nativity scene and a menorah. The ACLU filed a lawsuit against Wall Township in February 1999 for its holiday display in December of 1998. When the township erected another such display this year on December 2nd, the ACLU did not file a motion for its dismantling until December 20th. Judge Wolin claimed that the delay seemed intentional, with the ACLU trying to gain publicity with its dismantling so close to Christmas: "the timing appears calculated to maximize the impact." Though Judge Wolin's denial of the motion does not impact the merits of the case, a federal appeals panel ruled in February 1999 on a case involving a holiday display in Jersey City, NJ that a creche and a menorah were permissible in an overall cultural display that also included Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman.