The Michigan State Capitol Commission has declared that a permanent menorah in front of the Capitol is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

On Dec. 12, the Lansing State Journal reported that the Michigan State Capitol Commission wrote a letter to Lansing Mayor Andy Schor declaring that if a menorah is placed on the Capitol grounds, it would violate the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment Establishment Clause.

Since late November, Schor has been advocating for the menorah to permanently stand in front of the Michigan State Capitol alongside the 61-foot Christmas tree.

The initial disagreement surrounding the menorah’s placement was whether the lawn in front of the Capitol building was considered property of the city or state. Although that is not yet sorted out, Schor now faces the obstacle of violating the U.S. Constitution.

“I am disappointed that the Capitol Commission has decided not to allow a menorah alongside the Christmas tree so that Lansing can be welcoming to all during the holiday season,” Schor said. “This is certainly their decision to make for what they believe is their property.”

Commission Chair Gary Randall referenced court cases where Christmas trees have been deemed non-religious.

“I disagree with their interpretation of a menorah violating the Separation of Church and State clause of the constitution,” Schor said.

Schor also references the U.S. Supreme Court case, Allegheny v ACLU in 1989: “The U.S. Supreme Court determined that a menorah placed alongside a Christmas tree does not impermissibly endorse both the Christian and Jewish faiths, but simply recognizes that both Christmas and Hanukkah are part of the same winter holiday season which, the Court found, had attained a secular status in U.S. society.”

Although the menorah will not be displayed this year, Mayor Schor hopes that the Capitol Commission will make a different decision in the future so that all can feel welcome when they visit the Capitol during the holidays.

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