Here's an example of what an open and shut court case should look like:
1) White landlord accuses daughter of black tenant of using hair treatment products that cloud up the pool.
2) Tenant files discrimination complaint
3) Landloard hangs sign that reads: PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL - WHITE ONLY
4) Tenant takes landlord to court and wins.
5) Landloard claims sign is "historic" and as such, it's ok.
6) Court disagrees and rules in favor of tenant.
I like this ending. Justice is done. Historicity isn't a good excuse and the courts didn't allow it to be used as one.
Yet this argument is one that I see used all the time and quite often it does work! It's the defense that's always trotted out for the violation of the first amendment. Whenever someone wants to post the 10 commandments in a courthourse, it's always for its "historical" value. "In God We Trust" on our money? It's historical (even though not so much). "Under God" in the pledge? Historic (with even less history than "In God We Trust").
So why is it that sometimes this excuse works but other times it doesn't? The obvious answer is that, despite our constitutional guarantees, there are special privileges being given to religions of choice.