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Justices deny review of case of public school event on church property

Story highlights

  • To accommodate attendees, a Wisconsin school wanted to have its graduation in a church
  • A lawsuit from students and families said the venue coerced religious activity
  • Justices Scalia, Thomas wrote separately to say they wanted the court to decide the matter
The Supreme Court on Monday declined to get involved in a dispute over a public high school's efforts to hold its student graduation ceremonies in a church.
The justices, without comment, rejected the appeal from the Elmbrook School District outside Milwaukee, which had said its campus gymnasium was not large enough to accommodate those seeking to attend. They had contracted with a local "megachurch" to hold the events there, for what officials termed "secular convenience."
Several students and their families had sued, saying that the rented venue "coerces" religious activity and that all Christian symbols and imagery should have been removed to make it fit for public, secular events.
Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas wrote separately to say they wanted the court to decide the matter. They said a lower federal court ruling favoring the students was "decided incorrectly."
The case is Elmbrook School District v. Doe (12-755).