Allegheny v. American Civil Liberties Union
In Allegheny v. American Civil Liberties Union, 92 U.S. 573,109 S.Ct. 3086, 3117, 106 L.Ed.2d 472 (1989), the Court dealt with the constitutionality of a creche on the Grand Staircase in the County Courthouse and a menorah next to a Christmas tree outside the City-County Building. 109 S.Ct. at 3093.
It held that the creche display, but not the menorah display, violated the first amendment. Id.
With respect to the creche, the Court stated that, "unlike in Lynch, nothing in the context of the display detracts from the creche's religious message.... The creche stands alone: it is the single element of the display on the Grand Staircase." Id. at 3103-04.
The Court held that the creche violated the establishment clause:
"Lynch teaches that government may celebrate Christmas in some manner and form, but not in a way that endorses Christian doctrine. Here, Allegheny County has transgressed this line. It has chosen to celebrate Christmas in a way that has the effect of endorsing a patently Christian message: Glory to God for the birth of Jesus Christ." Id. at 3105.