Federal Court: New Jersey Board of Education Cannot Prohibit Religious Viewpoint at Pro-Life Day
Posted by faithandthelaw on April 28, 2010
CAMDEN, N.J. — A federal court ruled Thursday that the Bridgeton Board of Education should not have prohibited a student at Bridgeton High School from expressing a religious viewpoint on the 6th annual Pro-life Day of Silent Solidarity, a student-led event occurring outside of instructional time. Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed the lawsuit on behalf of the student in November of last year.
“Pro-life students shouldn’t be discriminated against for expressing their beliefs,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman. “The Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity provides the opportunity for students to exercise their constitutional right to express their viewpoint in a non-disruptive manner on abortion, just as other students have the right to express their views. We certainly agree with the court’s ruling in this case. Government-run schools say that students need to be educated on these issues, but many times they only want to allow one side to be presented.”
The student was prohibited from participating in the Stand True Ministries-sponsored event by distributing pro-life literature during non-instructional times and wearing a red arm band. School officials told the student that nothing “religious” is allowed in public schools and that they feared the student’s arm band could cause disruptions.
In its opinion, the court wrote that school district officials “have not presented any convincing argument that students will in fact become disruptive simply because one student is wearing a plain armband…. For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff’s Motion is granted and Defendants are permanently enjoined from prohibiting Plaintiff from wearing the armband or distributing the flyers absent a well-founded expectation of disruption.”
Michael W. Kiernan of Marlton, one of more than 1,600 attorneys in the ADF alliance, served as local counsel in the lawsuit, C.H. v. Bridgeton Board of Education, filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.