A holiday display does not have to be all inclusive to be constitutional.
Detroit, MI (PRWEB) December 18, 2008
Constitutional attorney Edward Cohn, who represents the Law Offices of Edward F. Cohn in Detroit, MI, has called for removal of an atheistic sign placed next to a nativity scene in the Washington Capitol rotunda. Among its messages are "there are no gods" and "religion is but a myth and superstition that hardens and enslaves minds."
On Dec. 1, Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire started a firestorm of controversy after agreeing to erect a "winter solstice" sign produced by the Freedom of Religion Foundation. In a statement the governor argued on behalf of the U.S. Constitutions' First Amendment. It reads, "Once government admits one religious display or viewpoint onto public property, it may not discriminate against the content of other displays, including the viewpoints of nonbelievers."
However, Cohn strongly disagrees, saying, "A holiday display does not have to be all inclusive to be constitutional." Cohn, whose legal firm deals with tax to religion issues, consulted Federal and Supreme Court precedents for answers. "The holiday display in question featuring the nativity scene already had fulfilled its legal requirement to incorporate other secular symbols relating to the holiday, like Christmas trees, Santa Claus, reindeer, and snowmen," he says.
Cohn voiced another problem with the Washington case. "The "winter solstice" sign does not amount to a religious statement or holiday wish or have anything to do with the holiday season. It is simply an attack, an assault on religions, Christians, and the Christmas holiday itself!"
In closing, Cohn warns that allowing Baker's "winter solstice" message in the holiday display under the guise of free speech may have opened the floodgates to an exponential amount of free speech claims and expressions that must be included in a holiday display.
"Holiday displays could be miles wide and never ending," Cohn concludes. "Governor Gregoire's mismanagement has opened the door to stupidity. Now, where will it end?"
Ed Cohn graduated Cum Laude from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, MI, where he was associate editor for the Cooley Law Review. Cohn's articles and opinions have appeared in the National Edition of Lawyers Weekly Magazine, the Associated Press and in the Detroit Free Press, among other media outlets.
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