Justin Brookman


The Constitutionality of the Good Friday Holiday

Justin Brookman

Each year on a Friday in late March or early April—two days before Easter—Christians commemorate the crucifixion of their savior Jesus Christ. They call that day Good Friday. Many states have given Good Friday the status of a legal holiday, closing government offices and schools, while countless localities observe the date in any number of ways, such as by shutting down various government services. Recently, many of these provisions have been attacked as violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” This principle precludes government from favoring or endorsing a particular religious sect or religion in general. Critics argue that by giving legal recognition to a purely sectarian holiday such as Good Friday, the state or locality in effect “establishes” Christianity as the government’s religion.