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WASHINGTON — U.S. Supreme Court justices voiced strong doubts Tuesday about allowing students or their parents to sue local school districts for failing to prevent sexual harassment by their classmates. “I’m sure schoolchildren nationwide tease each other. Little boys tease little girls,” Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said firmly at the start of arguments in a Georgia case, Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, 97-843. “Is every one of those incidents going to lead to a lawsuit?” Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy joined O’Connor in marked skepticism about opening federal courthouse doors to a new class of sexual harassment litigation. Together, they fired a barrage of challenging questions at lawyers seeking to overturn a federal appeals court decision that school districts are completely protected from federal civil rights damage suits for sexual harassment between fellow students. “Why does [a school district] have an obligation to act when little kids tease each other?” Scalia asked Verna Williams, an attorney with the National Women’s Law Center in Washington. Williams was representing the mother of a young Georgia girl, LaShonda Davis, who said she was the target of five months of crude sexual behavior by a male classmate while in the fifth grade in an elementary school in Forsyth, Ga., six years ago.

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