Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) wants the U.S. 2nd Circuit Appeals Court to rule that school districts have a duty as well as a right to cut a prayer from a student’s graduation speech.
“It’s my job to talk about God and see if they like it,” said a Taconic Hills, N.Y. middle-school student called A.M. As co-class president, A.M. got to give a speech at her public school’s Moving Up Ceremony in 2009. She wanted to close her speech with a prayer, but her principal and superintendent said no.
She obeyed, and her mother sued in U.S. District Court, claiming that the school had violated her daughter’s U.S. constitutional right to free speech.
Judge Gary Sharp said the school had a right to censor A.M.’s speech, because it took place at a school sponsored event, was reviewed by school officials, and was therefore the school’s speech.
AU wants more. In a 2012 amicus brief, it says, “Amicus urges the Court to craft its opinion with one eye on the effect it may have on districts and parents who want to bring prayer back into schools by using students to deliver prayers at school events. The court should be careful not to suggest any roadmap for any such efforts, and should be mindful of the concerns of parents and students of minority faiths and beliefs who fear attempts by the majority to impose its religion upon them in the public schools.…”
The case is McKay v. Taconic Hills.