Three Plastic Animals

THREE PLASTIC ANIMALS….Is a supersized Ten Commandments monument on public grounds constitutional? Jeffrey Rosen provides some historical context:

In the past, the Supreme Court has subscribed to what lawyers call a “three plastic animals” rule for religious displays: If a cr?che in a town square, for example, is surrounded by a wishing well and a laughing clown, it’s constitutional. The logic is that reasonable observers perceive unadorned religious displays to be endorsements of religion, while the addition of kitschy accoutrements turns the display into a celebration of Americana.

Indeed. What kind of godless commie tries to ban kitsch?

For the record, this week’s Supreme Court hearings revolved around two displays, one in Texas and one in Kentucky, and Rosen suggests that the TPA rule might make the Texas display constitutional and the Kentucky one not, or maybe the other way around. He doesn’t really know.

But I thought that paragraph was kind of funny anyway, so I’m sharing it.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation