|Either Saint Patrick was a giant, or that is one tiny church. Or, you know, symbolism.|
In Louisiana, if you get injured during a St. Patrick's Day parade and want to sue the organizer, tough luck. "Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, no person shall have a cause of action against any organization which presents St. Patrick's Day parades or other street parades connected with any ethnic celebration." La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 9:2796.1. Does anyone else find it odd that this law applies to all ethnic parades, but St. Patrick's Day is the only one that gets an explicit shout out? I've got my eye on you, Louisiana...
In Rhode Island, a woman was convicted of disorderly conduct for shouting obscenities during a St. Patrick's Day celebration (what is this, Communist Russia?). But in State v. Tavarozzi, 446 A.2d 1048 (R.I. 1982), the Rhode Island Supreme Court came to the rescue, overturning her conviction on the grounds that the disorderly conduct statute applies to "noise," and cannot constitutionally apply to speech. Count one for liberty. It may be drunken liberty, but liberty nonetheless.
In Minnesota, a man was fired for habitually giving short notice for his absences from work. He contended that he was fired because of his disability - alcoholism. His employer claimed no knowledge of his alcoholism. His evidence to demonstrate that his employer actually did have knowledge? The fact that he called out at 2:00 AM on St. Patrick's Day. The U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota wasn't buying it, and it granted Defendant's motion for summary disposition. Larson v. Koch Refining Co., 920 F.Supp. 1000 (D. Minn. 1996).
In Massachusetts in the mid-1990's, litigation arose from the exclusion of the Irish-American Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Group of Boston from Boston's St. Patrick's Day Parade, organized by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council. This issue deserves far more than the crass treatment I have been giving these laws and decisions heretofore, so for a more nuanced discussion, see two competing analyses of the litigation in the following articles: Gretchen Van Ness, Parades and Prejudice: The Incredible True Story of Boston's St. Patrick's Day Parade and the United States Supreme Court, 30 New Eng. L. Rev. 625 (1996); Dwight G. Duncan, Parading the First Amendment Through the Streets of South Boston, 30 New Eng. L. Rev. 663 (1996).
Have a safe and happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone! And remember, just because you can shout obscenities on St. Patrick's Day doesn't mean you should.