Rejected as a Judge, First Amendment Lawyer Denies ‘Merry Christmas’ Hostility
Posted Nov 1, 2010 6:00 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
A First Amendment appellate lawyer who would have been the first openly gay person appointed to the federal bench says he was told the White House declined his recommended nomination because of two quoted remarks about Christmas greetings and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Daniel Alter had been recommended by Sen. Charles Schumer for the Southern District bench and supported by 66 federal prosecutors who had worked with him in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan, where he had been acting chief of the civil division, the New York Law Journal reports.
Alter told the publication that the White House did not send his name to the Senate because of two sets of remarks attributed to him in news reports—but Alter says neither quotation was correct.
One of the news stories quoted Alter as saying the challenge to the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2004 on standing grounds, was “a good case at the wrong time." He denies making the statement, the New York Law Journal says.
Another news story quoted Alter as saying something to the effect that merchants should not greet customers by saying “Merry Christmas.” Alter says the report is “totally and utterly false.”
"Neither of the quotations attributed to me are accurate or in any way reflect my personal views regarding 'Merry Christmas' as a holiday salutation or including 'Under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance,” Alter told the New York Law Journal.
Alter currently practices at Alter & Alter, where he focuses on civil litigation and appellate work on media and First Amendment issues.