The U.S. Supreme Court refused on Monday to hear an appeal by a Milwaukee-area school district that held its graduation ceremonies at a local evangelical church because its school gymnasiums were too small for the event.
Elmbrook School District took its case to the U.S. Supreme Court after a federal appeals court ruled in July 2012 that the public district had violated the separation of church and state by holding its graduation ceremonies at the local Elmbrook Church for much of the 2000's. Three high schools within the Elmbrook district chose to have their graduation ceremonies at the church because their school gymnasiums were too hot and uncomfortable.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed the lawsuit against the school district in 2009, arguing that the public school system had violated the First Amendment's guarantee for a separation of church and state. Although the cross in the church was covered during the first year of graduation ceremonies, it was visible in subsequent graduations, as were Bibles, church banners and religious pamphlets. more >>
Brooks Hamby never wanted to be a rabble-rouser. He just wanted to thank Jesus in his high school graduation speech.
But the Brawley Union School District in Brawley, Calif., said the references to Jesus and prayer in Brooks' graduation speech were "inappropriate" and violated "prevailing legal standards."
School officials rejected three versions of the young man's graduation address, and one administrator went so far as to redact every religious reference with a black marker – as if it were some sort of top-secret government document. more >>
After spending seven years trying to deny a promotion "rightfully due" to Christian professor Mike Adams because of his conservative views, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington was ordered by a federal judge last Tuesday to pay more than $700,000 in legal fees accrued by the professor in a protracted discrimination lawsuit with the institution.
"UNCW has spent seven years fighting a scorched earth legal battle to deny one professor a promotion that he is rightfully due and now that's going to cost the taxpayers $700,000," said Travis Barham, one of Adams' attorneys in a Star News Online report. "It's time for this [to] end."
Senior U.S. District Court Judge Malcolm J. Howard ruled in the civil lawsuit brought against the school by Adams that UNC had to pay $698,131.50 plus $12,495 in non-taxable costs related to the professor's legal defense. more >>
In a unanimous, 9-0, decision, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a lower court decision preventing Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life organization, from suing a Democratic congressman over a freedom of speech claim. The case, involving an SBA List advertisement claiming that the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," funds abortions, will be allowed to move forward.
"Today's decision by the court is a step toward victory for the freedom of speech and the broad coalition of groups who have supported SBA List throughout this case. The truth or falsity of political speech should be judged by voters, not government bureaucrats," SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said.
During the 2010 election, SBA List funded a campaign telling voters that Congressman Steve Driehaus, D-Ohio, voted for taxpayer-funded abortion because of his vote for the ACA. When SBA List sought to place the message on a billboard, Driehaus threatened to sue under an Ohio law that makes it a crime to publish false statements about a candidate. Due to the lawsuit threat, the billboard owner declined to let SBA List rent the space. more >>
A school district in Fayette, Missouri has settled a legal dispute brought on by a secular group last year regarding alleged Christian prayers being held on campus.
Fayette High School, located in mid-Missouri, recently reached a settlement decree with the American Humanist Association, which filed a lawsuit against the school back in November 2013. The lawsuit alleged that the school district had violated the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment by showing favoritism to Christianity. The lawsuit argued that Fayette's former math teacher, Gwen Pope, participated in a weekly, Christian-themed prayer with her students in her classroom. Additionally, it alleged that such prayer meetings were announced on the school intercom by former Principal Darren Rapert, and the prayer gatherings were allowed to meet before school, even though other student-led clubs did not have the same privilege.
The agreement reached between Fayette High School and the American Humanist Association states that the school will amend its 2014 Student Teacher Handbook to explicitly outline the rules dictating a separation of church and state at public schools. The handbook will clearly state when student groups can meet and how teachers may participate in student-led religious expression. more >>
A federal judge "reluctantly" put same-sex marriages in Wisconsin on hold on Friday, a week after she struck down the state's gay nuptial ban as unconstitutional allowing nearly 600 licenses to be issued.
"After seeing the expressions of joy on the faces of so many newly wedded couples featured in media reports, I find it difficult to impose a stay on the event that is responsible for eliciting that emotion, even if the stay is only temporary," wrote U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb, who struck down the 2006 ban on same-sex marriage in a June 6 order without staying the ruling or clarifying if it takes effect immediately.
As a result, nearly 600 same-sex couples were granted marriage licenses in 60 counties in Wisconsin in the past week, according to USA Today. Another 12 counties declined to issue licenses. more >>