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Supreme Court Declines to Hear Candy Cane Case E-mail
Written by Don Byrd   
Monday, 11 June 2012

The Supreme Court today declined to hear the appeal of a Fifth Circuit decision , ruling that school officials likely violated the First Amendment rights of fifth-grade students by barring the distribution of materials like candy canes and pencils with religious messages to other students. Because the state of the law is unclear in that area, however, the Appeals Court declined to hold the individuals personally responsible for those violations. Both sides asked the Supreme Court to step in and clarify the law, but the high court turned away the case.

Education Week has more:

The parents, represented by high-profile Supreme Court litigator Paul D. Clement, argued that the case would be a good vehicle to clarify the law about the free expression rights of students, especially with regard to religious speech.

"The en banc 5th Circuit has sowed confusion as to the one aspect of this court's student speech jurisprudence that is beyond debate: school officials cannot discriminate against private, non-curricular speech solely on the basis of its religious viewpoint," the appeal...said.
On the other side, the two school principals filed briefs opposing the parents' appeal and their own conditional cross-appeal...that argues the 5th Circuit went further than it needed to by ruling on the free-speech rights of elementary students.

"The law was and is unclear as to the relative scope of establishment clause and free speech rights of elementary school children," which supports immunity for the principals in the case, one of their briefs says.

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