Still Arguing Plano ISD's "Candy Cane Case," This Time in Front of the Whole Fifth Circuit
|Doug Morgan, left, and son Jonathan, whose Jesus pencils lead to a lawsuit that's 8 years old and only getting older|
You remember, right? Eight years ago, Jonathan Morgan and other kiddos brought some religious paraphernalia to their Plano Independent School District elementary schools 'round Christmastime, including "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" pencils and "candy canes with cards describing their Christian origin." District officials said that was a violation of PISD policy, Bill O'Reilly (who got his facts wrong) called it the latest salvo in the War on Christmas ... and off the courts they went, ho-ho-ho. Finally, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that PISD's policy was constitutional, and last June the U.S. Supreme Court refused to even hear the case. And that was that.
"They grant that to very few cases, and the majority have to say yes, and they said yes in this case," says Josh Skinner, the Dallas attorney repping the Plano principals who asked for the Monday hearing in order to have the teachers released from the lawsuit.
Liberty's making a Big Deal out of this, insisting the hearing's "outcome could impact 41 million American students" who, it says, are being deprived of their "constitutional freedoms." Here's Liberty Legal's brief prepared for Monday's oral arguments, which, it insists, "is to ensure that school officials treat all students' religious and non-religious views with even-handed respect [because] the Constitution and clearly established law demand nothing less." They've even made a lengthy video, which was posted to YouTube last week and which follows after the jump. (Ken Starr cameo!)
Skinner was kind enough to send his brief, which says, in short: Everyone else in the district's been dismissed from the suit, so his clients should be too. And as for the video ...
"It misrepresents what happened, that's the biggest problem with it, and it misrepresents the legal issues," he tells Unfair Park. "The long and the short of it is they weren't discriminating against anyone. Nobody was being prevented from distributing something because it was religious. District policy didn't allow anything to be distributed. And the legal issue is a very narrow issue dealing with the fact the case law is confusing, but the plaintiffs' attorneys have described it as trying to take rights away from lots of school children, and they're ignoring cases from around the country talking about how confusing it is. Some of the cases involved religious materials, and in some of the cases it's not religious materials. But across the board judges have been unsure how involved federal courts should be in elementary schools."
He says an answer from the court is expected within three to six months. In other words, Christmas is coming early for someone. Your presents, however, are after the jump.
Supplemental en Banc Brief of Appellants Swanson Bomchill (00387658)