Constitutional Law

County Board Keeps Courthouse Display Policy for Now, Despite Skeleton Santa

Loudoun County commissioners in Leesburg, Va., discussed ending courthouse holiday displays Tuesday evening after controversy erupted over a skeleton Santa on a cross.

Skeleton Santa was erected under a county board policy adopted last year that allows 10 holiday displays on the courthouse lawn on a first-come, first-served basis, reports. The county board adopted the policy after a 2009 ban on courthouse holiday displays imposed because of constitutional questions surrounding a Nativity scene.

A motion to end the displays failed Tuesday on a 5-4 vote, but the issue is expected to come before the board again next year, the Loudoun Times says. Board chairman Scott York said he supports banning the displays, but “it’s too late to correct the situation right now.”

The application for the display said it would be an “art work of Santa on a cross to depict society’s materialistic obsessions and addictions.”

Skeleton Santa ended up face down in the grass after a vandal knocked it down on Monday, according to the stories. A deputy on the scene did nothing to stop it; the Loudoun County Sheriff’s office says it didn’t learn until later that the person who knocked down Santa was not the person who erected the display.

Last year the courthouse displays included a Star Wars message and five atheist contributions.

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