Without hundreds of cases like this multiplying every year, Constitutionalists will continue to see 1st Amendment violations by secularists aggressively “sanitizing” our society of fundamental religious freedom and free speech.
“This was a difficult case, but an extremely important one,” says David Cortman, Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel, “because younger students are continually influenced, and indoctrinated, by what is taught at school. And they should have the right to be able to not only respond, but to hold and share their personal views. It’s important for children like Katie to be able to take a stand for their values and faith beliefs.”
A district court found that the policies cited by the Pocono Mountain School District in silencing her speech were unconstitutional. The school district appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals, which upheld the lower court’s ruling “and laid out some fairly important principles,” Cortman says. Among them: 1) elementary students do have rights of free speech, and 2) district officials had no right to silence Katie’s speech simply because they disagreed with it. The Court of Appeals is the second-highest court in the country—and this was only the second Court of Appeals ruling to affirm First Amendment protections of the religious speech of elementary students.
“It’s not only a great victory in an important case,” Cortman says, “but it will have a broader reach as time goes on.” The Pocono policies are statewide, he points out, in a state with over 500 school districts, and nearly 2 million students attending. “We’re going to take Katie’s victory, do research on every one of those school districts, and send a legal demand letter to every one that has a similar unconstitutional policy, demanding they change those policies.
“After that,” he says, “we will be doing the same thing in the entire 3rd Circuit, which includes several district courts, several surrounding states … and then beyond that to states outside the 3rd Circuit. So the impact of this victory is going to be tremendous.”
“One person can make a difference,” Cortman says. “Katie, by deciding to take a stand, and being supported by her family and Alliance Defending Freedom, could influence millions of students.”
For Katie, it’s enough to know she influenced one. Soon after the legal win, her church held another event. This time, she handed out fliers to everyone—and nobody said a thing. Some of her classmates came, too … including a girl Katie had been inviting for a long, long time.
At the church event, the girl accepted Christ as her Savior. Soon after, her family started coming to church with her. Now, some of them are Christians, too.
Read the whole story at http://www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org/Faith-and-Justice/6-3/CoverStory