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Constitutional Law Keyed to Maggs
Lynch v. Donnelly
Citation:465 U.S. 668 (1984)
The Pawtucket display comprises many of the figures and decorations traditionally associated with Christmas, including a Santa Claus house, reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh, candy-striped poles, and other figures and the creche at issue here. All components of this display are owned by the City. The creche, which has been included in the display for 40 or more years, consists of the traditional figures, including the Infant Jesus. In 1973, when the present creche was acquired, it costs the City $1,365 which is now valued at $200. The erection and dismantling of the creche costs the City about $20 per year; nominal expenses are incurred in lighting the creche. No money has been expended on its maintenance for the past 10 years. Respondents, Pawtucket residents and individual members of the Rhode Island affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, and the affiliate itself, brought this action claiming that the creche in the display violates the Establishment Clause which is binding on the states through the Fourteenth Amendment.
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