At this time of the year everyone begins to get into the holiday season, looking forward to that special day off, Christmas. However, did you know that Christmas was not always celebrated in the United States? As a matter of fact, in 1659 the celebration of Christmas was outlawed in Massachusetts. Moreover, the celebration of Christmas fell out of favor in the United States after the American Revolution, when it was considered an English custom. Interest in Christmas was revived in the 1800’s and eventually Christmas Day was declared a U.S. federal holiday in 1870. However, after celebrating this holiday for over 136 years, there are still those among us who would like to see this holiday taken away.
On August 4, 1998, Richard Ganulin filed his complaint against the United States alleging that the statute making Christmas Day a legal holiday violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and interfered with his rights to equal protection and freedom of association.
As in other Establishment Clause cases, Mr. Ganulin’s position was that by declaring Christmas Day as a legal holiday, the U.S. government was giving preference to one religion over another. Furthermore, Mr. Ganulin argued that the government’s celebration of Christmas as a legal holiday classified Christian religious and cultural beliefs in a preferred way that impinged on his fundamental rights to believe and associate as a non-Christian. Mr. Ganulin objected to having the holiday imposed upon him because he alleged that the Christian ideas that underlie the holiday are the kind of ideas that underlie a person’s identity and existence.
The Court based it’s opinion upon a recently handed down U.S. Supreme Court case, Lynch, wherein it was held that a local government did not violate the Establishment Clause by including a crèche in its Christmas decor. With a flair for, and the exquisite use of, poetic justice, the Court dismissed Mr. Ganulin’s Complaint in this manner:
THE COURT WILL ADDRESS PLAINTIFF’S SEASONAL CONFUSION, ERRONEOUSLY BELIEVING CHRISTMAS MERELY A RELIGIOUS INTRUSION.
WHATEVER THE REASON, CONSTITUTIONAL OR OTHER, CHRISTMAS IS NOT AN ACT OF BIG BROTHER!
CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT JOY AND GIVING AND SHARING; IT IS ABOUT THE CHILD WITHIN US; IT IS MOSTLY ABOUT CARING!
ONE IS NEVER JAILED FOR NOT HAVING A TREE, FOR NOT GOING TO CHURCH, FOR NOT SPREADING GLEE!
THE COURT WILL UPHOLD SEEMINGLY CONTRADICTORY CAUSES, DECREEING “THE ESTABLISHMENT” AND “SANTA” BOTH WORTHWHILE CLAUS(ES)!
WE ARE ALL BETTER FOR SANTA, THE EASTER BUNNY TOO, AND MAYBE THE GREAT PUMPKIN, TO NAME JUST A FEW.
THE COURT HAVING READ THE LESSONS OF “LYNCH,” REFUSES TO PLAY THE ROLE OF THE GRINCH.
THERE IS ROOM IN THIS COUNTRY AND IN ALL OUR HEARTS TOO, FOR DIFFERENT CONVICTIONS AND A DAY OFF TOO!
No other better seasoned and reasoned, or rhyming, judicial opinion can be found than the above, written by the Honorable Justice Lott.
In this time of skepticism and of a skeptical age, another American commentator’s words come to mind, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists certainly, as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.” New Sun, 1897.
So let us all remember the joy of Christmas Day, as we did when we were children. Join in this happy celebration we call Christmas Day by giving goodwill and cheer to all, even lawyers! However, if you choose not to participate, then just enjoy your day off, because, if not for the reasonableness of Justice Lott, we all might have lost it!