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How will 3rd Circuit rule on Christmas party invitations at school?

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys available to media following hearing Wednesday

Tuesday, Oct 23, 2012

Attorney sound bite:  David Cortman

WHO: Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel David Cortman and Legal Counsel Matt Sharp
WHAT: Available for media interviews following hearing in K.A. v. Pocono Mountain School District
WHEN: Wednesday, Oct. 24, immediately following hearing which begins at 9 a.m. EDT
WHERE: U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, U.S. Courthouse, 700 Grant St., Courtroom 6A, 6th Floor, Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH — Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel David Cortman and Legal Counsel Matt Sharp will be available for media interviews immediately following Cortman’s oral argument at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit Wednesday in favor of allowing elementary school students to distribute Christmas party fliers at school.

Cortman will argue that the appellate court should affirm a district court order that prohibited the Pocono Mountain School District from banning a 5th-grader’s fliers that invited other students to a Christmas party held at a church.

“Public schools should encourage, not shut down, the free exchange of ideas--and that certainly includes a 5th-grader’s Christmas party invitations,” Cortman said. “America’s public schools should recognize the constitutionally protected freedom of religious students who wish to hand out these kinds of fliers. The district court was right to stop this unconstitutional ban on Christmas party invitations. Numerous courts have upheld similar fliers around the country.”

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed suit in March of last year on behalf of a 5th-grade student after she was stopped from distributing fliers that invited fellow Barrett Elementary Center students to a Christmas party at her church.

In October 2011, the court found that “the Superintendent’s elusive criteria for determining which materials could be distributed is simply too broad and vague to be considered reasonable” and are “ripe for abuse.”

Even though the district revised its policies, the court found that the revisions were insufficient to eliminate violations of student constitutional freedoms protected by the First Amendment.

Randall Wenger, chief counsel of the Harrisburg-based Independence Law Center and one of nearly 2,200 allied attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom, is serving as co-counsel in the suit, K.A. v. Pocono Mountain School District.

Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly Alliance Defense Fund) is an alliance-building legal ministry that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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