Over eight years ago, a student in Plano, Texas, started to hand out candy cane pens to his friends at Christmas time. School officials stopped the student from handing them out because they contained a religious message on them. The student filed suit against the school district and school officials.
Eventually, the case made it to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals who ruled in the student’s favor. In the decision that was handed down last year, the Fifth Circuit Court said that the school had violated the student’s constitutional rights by stopping him from passing out the pens.
However, the court’s decision did not hold the school officials accountable for their actions. Liberty Institute’s President and CEO Kelly Shackelford requested that the US Supreme Court review the case and hold those responsible for violating the student’s constitutional rights accountable for their actions. In an earlier statement, Shackelford said,
“And so what we’re doing is filing with the Supreme Court [asking them] to overturn this. We can’t have government officials nationwide being told that they can engage in religious discrimination against children and that there are no consequences [when they do].”
“And boy, it sure would be nice to have this nailed very clearly into the ground to say religious discrimination against children in the schools is not allowed — and anybody who does this will be personally liable.
In a recent statement, Liberty Institute attorney Hiram Sasser echoed Shackelford’s concerns saying,
“If the government school officials are not held accountable for their actions, then every time these school officials violate the Constitution and engage in this type of willful religious discrimination, they will claim Well, no other government school official has ever been held responsible, so I shouldn’t be held responsible either.”
“The least we can do is allow our kids who happen to have some religious beliefs to be able to share amongst their friends during their free time an opinion that’s contrary to the school’s social indoctrination message.”
In most cases, the guilty parties are held accountable for their actions, but in the candy cane case, none of the school officials were held accountable. If nothing happens to them, then there is no real deterrent to stop them from doing it again and again. That is why Liberty Institute says that this case is vitally important as it may have a direct bearing on the rights of over 45 million students throughout the country. They hope to hear in early June whether or not the Supreme Court will review the case. Let’s pray they do.