Supreme Court Upholds Decision Banning Graduation Ceremonies Held in Churches
The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear the case of Elmbrook School District. v. Doe.
Dating back 14 years, school district officials for Brookfield, Wisconsin rented the sanctuary of Elmbrook Church, a nondenominational evangelical congregation, for graduation ceremonies for two of its public schools.
In 2012, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the school district acted unconstitutionally in renting the church facility.
According to Religion News Service, reactions to the court's decision were mixed.
“Church buildings should not be treated like toxic warehouses simply because they normally house religious activities,” said David Cortman, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Arizona-based Christian law firm that specializes in First Amendment cases. “We hope the Supreme Court will clearly affirm in a future case that government neutrality toward religion is not achieved by treating it like asbestos in the ceiling tiles of society.”
Americans United for Separation of Church and State applauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s announcement concerning the commencement ceremony.
“There was no need for the U.S. Supreme Court to take this case,” said Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “The matter was resolved correctly by the court of appeals. This case should serve as a warning to public schools that it’s not appropriate to hold important ceremonies like graduation in a religious setting.”
Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented in the decision not to hear the case.
Publication date: June 17, 2014