Appeals court grants reprieve in Columbine H.S. religious-tiles case

After failing to comply with a Colorado federal judge’s order, Columbine High School won a stay in the case involving the display of memorial tiles.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit granted the reprieve on Tuesday after U.S. District Judge Wiley Daniel denied the school district’s request for additional time. Daniel ordered Jefferson County School District to mount the tiles within 20 days of his Oct. 15 decision in Fleming v. Jefferson County School District, 99-D1932 (2001). The judge’s deadline expired Nov. 4.

The district, which claimed the tiles’ religious content violates separation of church and state, argued it needed the stay to prepare its appeal. The appeals court ordered the plaintiffs, represented by the Rutherford Institute, to respond to the school’s appeal by Nov. 13.

The plaintiffs — friends and family of two students who died in the April 20, 1999 shooting — sued the school after it removed a handful of tiles with religious content. In his October decision, Daniel said the tiles were part of a limited public forum, which made it illegal to discriminate on the basis of religious expression.