U.S. Supreme Court to hear high school student speech case

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Supreme Court agreed in Novemberto hear arguments in a Texas case involving the right of studentsto pray before high school football games.

The case, Santa Fe School District v. Doe, arose aftertwo unnamed students at the school challenged Santa Fe SchoolDistrict’s policy of allowing what the school claims are "student-led,student-initated" prayer prior to school football games.The students claimed the practice violated the First Amendment’sEstablishment Clause.

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and in Februaryruled that the practice must stop.

The case could have far-reaching effects on the right of studentsto speak on religious topics in other school-related contexts,including in the student media.

The Student Press Law Center is one of many groups planningto file a friend-of-the-court brief in the case. The SPLC willurge the court to allow students to cover religious topics instudent media – just as they would any other newsworthy topic- where it is shown that the speech was not the result of coercionor the direct effort of school officials.

Oral arguments in the case are expected to be scheduled forlate March, with a decision due by the end of June.