When a controversial decision of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is appealed to the Supreme Court, the justices often take the bait and reverse. But on Monday, the Supreme Court denied review of a 9th Circuit ruling that nixed the performance of a religious instrumental piece by a public high school band in Washington state. Justice Samuel Alito Jr. dissented from the Court’s denial of review.

A high school band in Everett, Wash., chose to perform “Ave Maria” at graduation ceremonies, but school officials vetoed the plan, explaining that the piece’s title alone had religious connotations, even though, as an instrumental piece, it contained no religious words. The officials noted that the year before, graduation attendees had complained about a school choir piece that referred to God and angels. Kathryn Nurre, a senior, challenged the officials’ action as a violation of her freedom of speech. Both the district court for the Western District of Washington and the 9th Circuit upheld the officials’ actions.

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