O'Reilly: Alito will defend Christmas like the Founding Fathers; but did they?

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

Fox News host and nationally syndicated radio host Bill O'Reilly claimed that "traditionalist" Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr., like the country's Founding Fathers, does not "want all mention of Christmas stricken from the public arena." Alito's views aside, O'Reilly offered no support for his contention that the Founding Fathers would not want to strike all public mentions of Christmas. He offered no support for the suggestion that the Founding Fathers would have had an opinion on whether Macy's department stores should wish customers a "Merry Christmas," "Happy Holidays," or "Season's Greetings" or that the Founding Fathers would have opposed New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's unveiling of the "holiday tree." It is possible that, in fact, the Founding Fathers may have been swept up in the wave of anti-British sentiment following the American Revolution, in which "British" customs, such as celebrating Christmas, were widely shunned.

From the November 1 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

O'REILLY: By the way, if Alito is confirmed, that will be a good thing for conservatives. That's the bottom line. Because Alito will take a more traditional view than a [Supreme Court justices Stephen G.] Breyer or a [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg. OK? He'll look at things, and he'll say, "You know, the Founding Fathers didn't want partial-birth abortion. The Founding Fathers didn't want all mention of Christmas stricken from the public arena." That's what Alito will do. He's a traditionalist. He's going to rule that way.

According to HistoryChannel.com, celebration of Christmas in America prior to the Revolution depended largely on where one lived. In Jamestown, Virginia, one could celebrate the holiday freely. In Boston, celebration of Christmas incurred a fine of five shillings. Following the Revolution, Christmas was eschewed as "English customs fell out of favor." HistoryChannel.com noted that "Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America's new Constitution." The holiday remained unpopular for years, and Christmas was not declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

O'Reilly was one of many pundits and commentators in 2004 to decry the so-called "War on Christmas" and featured a regular segment on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor titled "Christmas Under Siege."

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