Bad Tidings for Ash Wednesday: The Grinches Win One— Supreme Court Accepts Second-Class Religious Status for Christianity
Print Friendly and PDF readers who follow our War Against Christmas Competition may remember that I wrote about the case of Andrea Skoros v. City of New York last December. Mrs. Skoros, after failing to get the attention of New York City Department of Education bureaucrats, finally took the city and the Dept. of Ed's chancellor, former Clinton Administration lawyer Joel Klein, to federal court. Mrs. Skoros's complaint is that the Dept. of Ed's policy that permits "holiday" display of Menorahs and Moslem moons and stars while forbidding Christian nativity scenes or cr???ches of any sort violates the Establishment Clause (Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof) of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which the Supreme Court applies against the states through its incorporation doctrine of the 14th Amendment. Assuming the incorporation doctrine is good law (which all federal courts do although that is a very dubious proposition), Mrs. Skoros is surely right.

Unfortunately, being right on the law is no guarantee that our federal courts will vindicate a citizen's rights - they prefer putting Border Patrolmen in jail for doing their jobs. After a U.S. District Judge found against her, [Decision in PDF ] and a divided Second Circuit appeals panel upheld the district judge's ruling,[PDF ] Mrs. Skoros petitioned the Supreme Court to hear her case.

That the Supreme Court has now declined to do. [Denial of Certiorari PDF ] This is very bad news on several levels. On the technically legal level, the Court had a good, one might say Heaven-sent, opportunity to resolve a split among the federal appeals courts, that legally irksome state when different circuits reach different conclusions about constitutional issues. Most constitutional lawyers would argue that resolving such splits is a primary Supreme Court function. While a federal appeals judge on the Third Circuit, now-Justice Samuel Alito participated in a ruling that display of a nativity scene on government property did not violate the Establishment Clause. The Second Circuit's Skoros decision is clearly in conflict with the Third Circuit's interpretation. Evidently, even with President Bush's new appointees on the Court, and Sandra Day O'Connor mercifully gone (is it mere happenstance that stripping the Cross from William and Mary's Wren Chapel coincides with her arrival in Williamsburg?), ruling that Christianity is a faith on a par with Judaism and Islam in America is too hot an issue for the Supreme Court to take on.

And that is the really bad news, transcending legalisms. In the post-Constitutional republic we live in, the Supreme Court has succeeded (often with the collusion of responsibility-ducking Congressmen) in making itself the final arbiter of social issues in America. Just on the face of it, in denying certiorari to Andrea Skoros the Court seems to be saying that it has no opinion or is neutral on the questions she raises. In effect, though, by upholding the Second Circuit decision, which accepted most of the NYC Dept. of Ed's specious excuses for discriminating openly against Christianity, the Supreme Court has tacitly ratified them.

So now promoting pluralism through multicultural holiday displays is a valid excuse for banishing the symbols of the nation's founding, traditional and still majority faith, Christianity, while featuring those of a minority faith, Judaism, and an upstart religion in America, Islam. NYC's Dept. of Ed, America's largest school district, is clearly engaged in multicultural propaganda and programming of the unfortunate children entrusted to its care, and that is no problem for our Supreme Court.

How can one avoid the conclusion that a majority of the justices are sympathetic to this anti-Christian farrago of deconstruction? I and others had hoped that justices such as Scalia, Thomas and Alito would want to tackle these issues. If they did, they were outvoted by the Court's militant secularists.

And so piece-by-piece the abolition of America, the dismantling of the country our colonial ancestors founded, that their descendants and so many immigrants who followed them built into a great nation, proceeds apace.

It was probably na???ve to think that today's Supreme Court would acknowledge that the Christian religion is an essential element of our national life, and has been since long before independence. But it should not have been too much to ask the Court to check this ACLU-style abuse of the faith and good will of New York City's Christians.

Their refusal to do so means that the Dept. of Ed's anti-Christianity policy will now become an acceptable standard for any school district that wants to drive any mention of the Christian faith out of its schools - and we are all the poorer for it.

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