Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Philadelphia-Do kindergarten or first-grade students have a First Amendment right to express their religious beliefs during a school-sponsored party by distributing gifts to fellow students that bear a religious message? The 3d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the answer is no if the school party was a “highly structured” event that had an educational component. “As a general matter, the elementary school classroom, especially for kindergartners and first graders, is not a place for student advocacy. To require a school to permit the promotion of a specific message would infringe upon a school’s legitimate area of control,” Chief U.S. Circuit Judge Anthony J. Scirica wrote. Walz v. Egg Harbor Township Board of Education. Controversial candy canes The decision by a unanimous three-judge panel affirmed the dismissal of a suit brought for a boy by his mother. He was prohibited from distributing pencils emblazoned with the message “Jesus [Loves] the Little Children,” using a heart for the word “loves.” When Daniel Walz was in first grade, he was also barred from distributing candy canes with a message attached that said the seasonal treat was designed to include “several symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ,” by bearing the shape of the letter J and a red-and-white color scheme signifying Christ’s purity and blood. Walz and his mother filed suit to challenge the school’s actions, arguing that even very young students have a First Amendment right to engage in religious speech with their peers. But Scirica found that “the school’s restrictions on this expression were designed to prevent proselytizing speech that, if permitted, would be at cross-purposes with its educational goal and could appear to bear the school’s seal of approval.” Scirica found that in First Amendment suits brought by elementary school students, “the age of the students bears an important inverse relationship to the degree and kind of control a school may exercise: As a general matter, the younger the students, the more control a school may exercise.” Scirica found that Daniel’s religious gifts were properly prohibited because he had attempted to distribute them “during classroom activities that had a clearly defined curricular purpose.”

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.