Press Releases

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Sides with Religious Freedom in Christmas Lights Case

June 17, 2024

News Release
For Immediate Release: 6.17.24
Contact: John Manning,
Direct: 972-941-4453

 U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Sides with Religious Freedom in Christmas Lights Case  

Ninth Circuit reverses a judge’s decision to overturn a jury’s ruling after Idaho couple was punished by homeowners association for Christmas celebration that raised money for children.

Coeur d’Alene, ID— The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed an Idaho judge’s decision to overrule a jury’s verdict in a dispute over a Christmas display between an Idaho couple and their homeowners association (“HOA”), granting a new trial in the case. Allyson Ho, partner at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, argued the case before the Ninth Circuit.

The opinion is available here.

“Today the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit sided with religious freedom,” said Kelly Shackelford, President, CEO, and Chief Counsel for First Liberty.  “We are grateful to Allyson Ho and the team at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher for not only upholding the importance of trial by jury, but also for securing the right freedom of every family to celebrate the Christmas season without fear of retribution in their very own neighborhood.”

Jeremy and Kristy Morris hosted an annual Christmas display at their home near Hayden, Idaho, asking visitors for donations to charities that serve children with cancer and children who have been victims of abuse and neglect. The Morrises moved to a new home in 2014 and notified the West Hayden Estates First Addition Homeowners Association that they would have a Christmas display. After the HOA tried to block the display, the Morrises sued. An Idaho Jury found that the HOA discriminated against the Morrises on the basis of their religion, awarding them $75,000 damages. The jury also found that a letter sent by the HOA showed “preference that a non-religious individual” should purchase the home.

Nonetheless, a judge overruled the jury’s verdict, imposed an injunction preventing the Morrises from decorating their home for Christmas, and imposed thousands of dollars of attorney’s fees on the Morrises.  The Ninth Circuit reversed and held the Morrises are entitled to a new trial.

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To arrange an interview, contact John Manning at or by calling 972-941-4453.

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