Supreme Court Won't Review New York City Ban on Nativity Scenes in Public Schools

The Supreme Court on Tuesday decided not to review a New York City policy that bans public school displays of nativity scenes but allows Santa Claus, reindeers, Christmas trees and symbols of Jewish and Islamic holidays.

The nation's highest court chose not to re-examine an appeals court decision against the claim filed by Andrea Skoros, a Roman Catholic mother of two sons who attended public schools. She first filed the case in 2002 in Brooklyn federal court.

Skoros had claimed that the city's policy promoted and endorsed the religions of Judaism and Islam and conveyed a message of disapproval toward Christianity.

The 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals concluded last year that no objective observer would believe it was the city's purpose to denigrate Christianity, even if the Department of Education erred in characterizing a Jewish menorah and an Islamic star and crescent as secular symbols.

Instead, the court said, the actual and perceived purpose of the holiday display policy was to use holiday celebrations to encourage respect for the city's diverse cultural traditions.

The policy affects more than one million students enrolled in 1,200 public schools and programs in the nation's largest public school system. City public school students speak 140 different languages and more than 125,000 students are enrolled in programs to learn English.