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Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board v. Pinette

A Symbol Of Hatred Or Religious Display?, Impact, Further Readings


Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board


Vincent J. Pinette

Petitioner's Claim

Allowing the display of a large wooden cross in front of the state capitol violates the Establishment Clause because it could be interpreted as an endorsement of religion.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Michael J. Renner

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Benson A. Wolman

Justices for the Court

Stephen Breyer, Anthony M. Kennedy, Sandra Day O'Connor, William H. Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia (writing for the Court), David H. Souter, Clarence Thomas

Justices Dissenting

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Paul Stevens


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

29 June 1995


Displaying a wooden cross in front of the Capital did not violate the Establishment Clause.


A religious symbol, even if displayed on or near a government building does not violate the Establishment Clause, which prohibits governments from sanctioning or endorsing a religion, if the facility is opened to any and all groups.

Related Cases

  • McGowan v. Maryland, 366 U.S. 420 (1961).
  • Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1970).
  • Widmar v. Vincent, 454 U.S. 263 (1981).
  • Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983).
  • Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668 (1984).
  • County of Allegheny v. ACLU, 492 U.S. 573 (1989).
  • Lamb's Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School Dist., 508 U.S. 384 (1993).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994