Supreme Court Tosses 'Christian Candy Cane' Case
An appeal over Christmas sweets turned bitter June 11 when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the so-called "Christian candy cane" case, the Religion News Service reports. Morgan v. Swanson, which had become a rallying point for Christians concerned about free religious expression in public schools and students' rights to distribute religious literature, began nine years ago in Texas' Plano Independent School District as principals prevented self-described evangelical students from distributing religious literature on school grounds. In one instance, principal Lynn Swanson stopped third-grader Jonathan Morgan from handing out candy-cane shaped pens along with a card purporting to explain the candy's Christian roots that read in part, "So, every time you see a candy cane, remember the message of the candy maker: Jesus is the Christ!" In another instance, principal Jackie Bomchill prevented second-grader Stephanie Versher from passing out Passion play tickets and pencils with the message "Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so" on school grounds. Last year, the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the principals were within their rights in stopping the candy canes, but also found restrictions on student speech unconstitutional. The principals were exempt under "qualified immunity," which protects government officials from violating a law that is not "clearly established." The Supreme Court's decision not to intervene means the ruling stands.