District That Lost a Challenge to Hold Graduation in a Church Will Ask the Supreme Court to Review Case

Last month, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Elmbrook School District in Brookfield, Wisconsin violated the First Amendment when it held its graduation ceremonies in a church. You can read a summary of the case here.

The inside of Elmbrook Church

At the time, I wrote this:

The district’s last option now is to ask the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling. I would hope, after all this unnecessary fighting (and waste of taxpayer money), they just accept the loss and move on.

Well, looks like they’re ignoring me. Last week, they voted to ask the Supreme Court to hear their case:

On Tuesday, August 21, the School District of Elmbrook Board of Education voted 5-2 to appeal the 7th Circuit Court’s decision in the case of Does vs. School District of Elmbrook to the United States Supreme Court.

The district says it has attorneys who will work for free for them, but they’re also adding that it won’t cost the taxpayers more than $15,000. Money that should be going toward the education of students but will instead go to see if school-sponsored ceremonies in openly religious venues are ok.

The best outcome here would be for the Supreme Court to just decline to hear the case — which is what they do most of the time, anyway. But this is a case involving church-state separation… and given the current makeup of the court, it’s possible Justices Scalia and Thomas could persuade their conservative colleagues to accept it for review.

For what it’s worth, the whole case is moot for the district. They haven’t held a graduation ceremony in the church since 2009 after a new fieldhouse was built. They’re doing this for the sake of principle… to see if other districts can get away with it. And if they win, who knows, maybe they’ll be relocating the event back to the church.

(Thanks to Angela for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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