Could you get a restraining order against Santa?

The excellent Law and the Multiverse blog (which seriously considers legal questions arising from funnybooks) examines the legal options available to someone seeking to get a restraining order against Jolly Old St Nick. As with all stories whose headline ends with a question-mark, the answer to this one is "no," but the reasoning behind that "no" is a fascinating look at the law of protective orders.

We don’t think Santa’s behavior would meet this standard. People couldn’t have a reasonable fear of material harm because Santa has an unbroken record of hundreds of years of peaceful activity. It could be enough that he has actually caused material emotional harm to someone, except that the harm would have to be caused by contact or communication initiated by Santa. The problem here is that Santa doesn’t initiate communication; instead people write letters to him. Arguably he initiates indirect contact by entering people’s homes, but there’s no evidence that he enters homes where he is unwanted. In fact, staying up late to ‘catch’ Santa is traditionally considered to cause him not to visit. And of course visits from Santa Claus have rarely, if ever, caused someone to lose their job.

Law of Superheroes organizes the best material from Law and the Multiverse into a kind of first-year lawschool compressed into one set of covers where all the hypotheticals revolve around comic-book storylines. It's the best quick legal education going, really.

Santa and Restraining Orders

(Image: Original Bad Santa kicks arse, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from dancentury's photostream)


  1. A temporary restraining order is meant to preserve the status quo. If the status quo you are maintaining is the absence of Santa, then ok.  But once you invite him in (like a vampire) you’re stuck.

  2. “. . .Santa has an unbroken record of hundreds of years of peaceful activity.”  Sorry Cory, but I must correct you.  As evidence presented in the hearing “State of NY v. Kris Kringle (c. 1947),” Santa forcibly struck one Granville Sawyer with a blow to the head.

      1. Hmmm, it’s true.  It could be argued that the intervening 1,622 years would justify the statement “unbroken record of hundreds of years of peaceful activity.”  At worst, St. Nick would be a persistent offender.

    1. Ha!  Good point.  I must confess to never having seen Miracle on 34th Street, so I wasn’t aware of that particular incident.

  3. And even if you could get the protective order, doesn’t someone have to present him with it in order for it to be valid?

    1. You have to notify him that you plan to get a restraining order, with proof of notification. If he doesn’t show up for court, you need to do it again.

      1. Set the court date for 24 December, late evening, and make sure the courthouse has a chimney. Leave out milk, cookies, and the summons disguised as a ‘what I want for xmas’ letter. Done!

      2. Not a problem.  Several countries’ mail services accept delivery of letters to Santa.  (Use recorded delivery, obviously.)

  4. Restraining orders seem like the wrong scale for dealing with this corpulent elf.

    Can you imagine how many customs duties he doesn’t pay every year, or how many border control violations he commits during his annual ‘non-state-actor-gonna-violate-your-airspace world tour’?

    He’d better hope that Rudolf’s nose isn’t as bright and shiny in the IR band as it is in the visible red, or he could run into real trouble…

Comments are closed.