Decision in Postal Service Establishment Clause Case

August 21, 2009

The federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued an important Establishment Clause decision on August 20, 2009, in Cooper v. U.S. Postal Service, an appeal handled by Wiggin and Dana's Appellate and Complex Legal Issues Practice Group, on behalf of local residents of Manchester, Connecticut.
The court held that a church that operates a local post office under contract with the U.S. Postal Service in Manchester, Connecticut cannot display proselytizing religious materials in the postal unit.  The court rejected claims by the church that, because it was a private party, it was not subject to the Establishment Clause, ruling intead that the church's operation of the post office was a "public function" that made the church a government actor, subject to constitutional restrictions.