October 7, 2010
Supreme Court Declines to Hear Appeal: Ban on Christmas Songs Remains at New Jersey Public School
Today I came across several stories reporting on the Supreme Court's decision to decline hearing an appeal in the six-year old legal battle that started when parent Michael Stratechuk sued the School District of South Orange-Maplewood, New Jersey, over a policy that barred religious songs at the school district's public concerts.
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ban last year, and Stratechuk attempted to take the case to the higher court. On Monday, the Supreme Court effectively ended the battle. While the 3rd Circuit's ruling technically applies only to Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Stratechuk's attorney, Robert J. Muise of the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, opined that the Court's rejection of the case could lead to a chilling effect on religious music in school districts across the country. According to Muise, "Religion has not been banned totally in schools but we're headed in that direction. The South Orange-Maplewood Schools are in the forefront of taking that step."
In a statement, School Superintendent Brian Osborne said the policy "was adopted to promote an inclusive environment for all students in our school community. We have always felt our policy was constitutional and are pleased with the outcome."
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