Chief Judge James B. Parsons of the U.S. District Court in Chicago held in
Grutzmacher v. Public Bldg.
700 F. Supp. 1497, 1988 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13251 (11/23/88), that “religious expressive
conduct in a traditional public forum enjoys the same protections afforded political, artistic, or othertypes of protected speech under the First Amendment. *** Therefore, the responsibility of the ExecutiveDirector and the members of the Commission is to administer this public forum without discriminationagainst any who would use it regardless of their religion or regardless of their abstention from religion.This is a basic responsibility they must perform. Incidentally, it may never be properly performed by
saying to any one type of user as against the other, ‘It is easier for us to administer the city’s properties if
no religionists come aboard. We would prefer not to have religionists of any type aboard our Daley
What a revolting and ridiculous position to be taken here in the United States of America
presumably under the mandate of our Constitution.”
(Exh. A to the enclosed draft complaint, pp. 6-7;emphasis supplied).Chief Judge Parsons then entered a preliminary injunction, barring the Public BuildingCommission from excluding from Daley Plaza either Grutzmacher, with his Nativity Display, or co-plaintiff Lubavitch Chabad, with its Menorah Display, or any other religious
applicants, “withoutdiscrimination and without regard to the content of their expressions, religious or otherwise,” etc.
Thereafter, on December 15, 1989, the Chief Judge made this injunction permanent. Since that time, theNativity Display has been permitted to appear annually at Christmas time on Daley Plaza, along with aMenorah, and more recently, an Islamic Crescent.Just several years ago, the Commission once again purported to block the public display of scenes from the movie,
, which a vendor sought to exhibit as part of the city of Chicago’s“Christ Child Market,” or as expressed in German, “Christkindlmarket”
a holiday festival on the Plazathat has been renewed annually. A religious association then proposed to show scenes from the movie,and they retained us to prepare a federal complaint, a copy of which is enclosed, to secure their right tomount the display. But we never had to file or prosecute that complaint, for after we had the opportunityto discuss the matter with counsel for the city and the Public Building Commission, they withdrew theirobjection. Our client was permitted to fund, sponsor, and mount the display amidst the secularChristkindlmarket displays. And, of course, the Nativity Scene, sponsored by Jim Finnegan and hisgroup, was also displayed next to the Christkindlmarket exhibits, in compliance with Chief Judge
Similarly, we now request, with re
spect, that you reconsider your denial of our client’s request
for display of a privately sponsored, privately funded Nativity Scene in North Park next to or whollyapart from the Arlington Heights Holiday Display. Certainly, such a display could be fit into the amplyspacious park area, equally as we fit the
movie display and Chicago Nativity Scene intoDaley Plaza along with Christkindlmarket. The Nativity Scene would also fit in thematically with theother displays, in the sense that all of them honor the holiday season, whose religious aspects cannotlawfully be discriminated against, as Chief Judge Parsons ruled, in deference to its purely secular(sleigh, frosty, etc.) aspects. Inclusion of dreidels, moreover, already injects the religious symbolism of Chanukah among the displays, and we can think of no legally defensible reason why the Nativity Scene,identified as privately sponsored and funded, should be barred.
Indeed, you cannot delete “Christ” from“Christmas.”