While the spirit of the Establishment Clause guides court decisions year round, Establishment "Claus" is the true legal superstar of the holiday season.
Establishment Claus, you see, is the oft-perplexing, always-vexing nemesis of state institutions that want to get festive without getting entangled in the twinkle lights of religion.
Thanks largely to the busy legal elves at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Establishment Claus always knows who's being constitutionally naughty or nice.
Whether you're happy about Hanukkah, ecstatic for Eid, crazy for Christmas, cuckoo for Kwanza or just absolutely ambivalent, here are a few tips for decorating for holidays SCOTUS-style.
This, of course, is not a dispositive guide; many circuits have contradicted the Supreme Court, and even their own precedent, with decisions regarding holiday displays.
Our suggestion? When in doubt, go with a city-owned celebratory hodgepodge of holiday fixtures. For good measure, throw in a Sixth Circuit-approved, ACLU v. Wilkinson disclaimer stating "This display does not constitute an endorsement of any religion."
As you contemplate whether the robot, teddy bear, and baby Jesus display you're assembling -- yes, one of the SCOTUS-condoned crèches included robots -- will pass constitutional muster, perhaps you'll also consider penning a letter to Santa Claus, asking for Supreme Court clarity on Establishment Claus.