Thomas H. Roberts & Associates, P.C.
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News - Religious Freedom Suit Filed
by FCA Against Powhatan County 


FYI - Victory (click to view)

Powhatan Student
Files Suit in Federal Court
Seeking an Injunction to Obtain
The Same Treatment For Her Christian Club
As Those Given to Other Clubs

Powhatan Student
Files Suit in Federal Court
to Prohibit School from Censoring Her
Religious Speech

On November 17, 1999, a federal lawsuit was filed by a Powhatan High School Student for violations of her First Amendment rights to speech and religion. After Powhatan High School rejected the application of the student-led club and local chapter of Fellowship for Christian Athletes, to be permitted to have a youth pastor speak to the club on the topic of "Christian growth," a Powhatan student has sued seeking an injunction to protect her First Amendment rights to speech and religious freedom.

Civil Rights Attorney Thomas H. Roberts stated that "the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that schools like Powhatan High School are not permitted to discriminate against student clubs simply because of their religious activities or viewpoints. The Supreme Court made that clear in Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, 115 S.Ct. 2510, 2516 (1995) where it ruled the University was required to pay the publication expenses of a student Christian newspaper in accordance with its general policy of funding student newspapers."

The Supreme Court in Lamb’s Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District, 408 U.S. 384 (1993) held that a school which allows after-hours access to its facilities to a wide variety of public organizations cannot deny that same access to religious groups.

The lawsuit also accuses the principal of the school of censoring the club’s speech by restricting and editing the description of the club which they submitted to be published in a directory by the Student Council Association. The student claims that the school removed detailed Christian references describing the clubs purpose.

The school’s action is a denial of the right of free speech and would risk fostering a pervasive bias or hostility to religion, which could undermine the very neutrality the Establishment Clause requires. If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.

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Thomas H. Roberts, Esq.
Thomas H. Roberts & Associates, P.C.
105 S. 1st Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219
(804) 783-2000
(804) 783-2105

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