Allegheny v. ACLU, Greater Pittsburgh Chp
In Allegheny v. ACLU, Greater Pittsburgh Chp., 492 U.S. 573, 109 S.Ct. 3086, 3107-09, 106 L.Ed.2d 472 (1989), the Court again addressed the constitutionality of a creche displayed as part of a city's holiday celebration. There, unlike in Lynch, the creche was located on the Grand Staircase of the county courthouse. 492 U.S. at 578, 109 S.Ct. at 3093.
The display was also surrounded by a fence and poinsettia floral frame and included small evergreen trees, but unlike the display in Lynch, did not include figures of Santa Claus, reindeer, or other decorations traditionally associated with the secular aspects of Christmas. Id. at 580-81, 109 S.Ct. at 3094-95.
The Court noted that the location of the creche on the Grand Staircase of the Allegheny County Courthouse--"the 'main' and 'most beautiful part' of the building that is the seat of county government," id. at 599, 109 S.Ct. at 3104--would make it almost impossible for any reasonable viewer to "think that it occupied this location without the support and approval of the government." Id. at 599-600, 109 S.Ct. at 3104.
Accordingly, the Court ruled that the display was an impermissible endorsement of religion under Lemon.