New Jersey School Shouldn’t Have Barred Student From Pro-Life Event Court Says

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 26, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Jersey School Shouldn’t Have Barred Student From Pro-Life Event Court Says

by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 26
, 2010

Camden, NJ ( — A court ruled last Thursday that a New Jersey student should not have been prevented from participating in a national pro-life event along with hundreds of thousands of her peers. A federal court ruled the Bridgeton Board of Education shouldn’t have interfered with the Bridgeton High School student.

The student hoped to participate in the sixth annual Pro-life Day of Silent Solidarity, which took place in October.

But, the student was prohibited from participating in the Stand True Ministries-sponsored event by distributing pro-life literature during non-instructional times.

She also wanted to wear a red armband with the word “LIFE” written on it, but school officials told the student that nothing “religious” is allowed in public schools. They also feared the student’s arm band could cause disruptions.

The Alliance Defense Fund came to the defense of the student and filed a lawsuit, and the district court said the school can’t stop students from expressing a religious viewpoint.

“Pro-life students shouldn’t be discriminated against for expressing their beliefs,” ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman told today.

“The Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity provides the opportunity for students to exercise their constitutional right to express their viewpoint in a non-disruptive manner on abortion, just as other students have the right to express their views. We certainly agree with the court’s ruling in this case. Government-run schools say that students need to be educated on these issues, but many times they only want to allow one side to be presented," he said.

In its opinion, the court wrote that school district officials “have not presented any convincing argument that students will in fact become disruptive simply because one student is wearing a plain armband."

"For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff’s Motion is granted and Defendants are permanently enjoined from prohibiting Plaintiff from wearing the armband or distributing the flyers absent a well-founded expectation of disruption," the court added.

Michael W. Kiernan of Marlton, one of more than 1,600 attorneys in the ADF alliance, served as local counsel in the lawsuit, C.H. v. Bridgeton Board of Education, filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Cortman said Cumberland County has the highest rate of teen pregnancies in the state of New Jersey, yet Bridgeton High School censors students’ pro-life speech opposing abortion.

Related web sites:
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