Update: Brooklyn's Holiday Display Policy Upheld in Appeals Court

February 3, 2006

Source: Newsday

Wire Service: AP


On February 3, 2006 the Associated Press reported, "A federal appeals court has upheld a city policy on holiday displays for its schools that allows Santa Claus, reindeers, Christmas trees and symbols of Jewish and Islamic holidays but prohibits nativity scenes. The 2-1 ruling Thursday by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision of a lower court judge who found that the city's policy of permitting secular symbols had the desired effect of neither advancing nor inhibiting religion. The appeals court concluded that no objective observer would believe it was the city's purpose to denigrate Christianity, even if the Department of Education erred in characterizing a Jewish menorah and an Islamic star and crescent as secular symbols... Instead, the court said, the actual and perceived purpose of the holiday display policy was to use holiday celebrations to encourage respect for the city's diverse cultural traditions... The policy affects more than one million students enrolled in 1,200 public schools and programs in the nation's largest public school system... The case was brought in 2002 in Brooklyn federal court by Andrea Skoros, a Roman Catholic mother of two sons who attended public schools. She said in her lawsuit that the policy promoted and endorsed the religions of Judaism and Islam and conveyed a message of disapproval toward Christianity."