A teacher from Cheektowaga, New York has lost a lawsuit she filed after her school told her she could not have Christian posters on her classroom wall and other religious items. Nearly all of the claims in the lawsuit will be dismissed.
Joelle Silver, who teaches biology and life sciences at Cheektowaga High School, sued the district after she was ordered to remove religious posters and quotes. The district was concerned that her students might be influenced by her personal religious beliefs.
Silver took down a New Testament quote and another from Ronald Reagan, which spoke about the value of God to society and democracy.
A group called Freedom from Religion had received a complaint by a student who objected to the religious posting in the classroom. The group threatened a lawsuit if the district didn’t take action.
Silver then filed a federal civil rights lawsuit through a group called The American Freedom Law Center. It referred to itself as a non-profit Judeo-Christian law firm.
In a letter to Silver, Kane said, “You are using your publicly-funded classroom to express your personal religious beliefs to your students.”
The letter ordered her to “refrain from all other forms of communication with students that would conflict with your duty to show complete neutrality toward religion.”
The American Freedom Law Center is a 4th tier Christian legal group founded by Robert Muise, formerly an attorney with the Thomas More Law Center (and an attorney in the Dover trial) and Islamophobic bigot David Yerushalmi. Their press release on the case is predictably inane:
The School District also ordered Silver to remove small, personal sticky notes that contained inspirational Bible quotes and religious messages that she kept discreetly on her desk. To add further insult, the School District informed Silver that if she needed “to occasionally glance at inspirational Bible verses between classes during the course of the day,” then she should “keep such material in a discreet folder that only [she] will have access to” and only “so long as [she took] precautions not to share it or disclose its content to [her] students or their parents or guardians.”
In addition, the School District ordered Silver “to refrain from all other forms of communication with students during the school day (whether verbal, email, texting, written, etc.) that would conflict with [her] duty to show complete neutrality toward religion and to refrain from promoting religion or entangling [herself] in religious matters.”…
Muise continued: “To assert that the School District was justified in ordering Ms. Silver to remove small, sticky notes containing handwritten, inspirational Bible verses that she attached to the back her desk for fear that these small, personal notes would violate the Establishment Clause, as the School District argued and the magistrate judge found, is simply absurd. Indeed, this case should remove any lingering doubts as to whether our government, which includes the judiciary, is hostile to religion. But I can assure you that this fight is far from over.”
David Yerushalmi, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel, commented: “We are clearly witnessing the systematic removal of religion from all spheres of life, which is why it is critically important that we redouble our efforts. We can assure you that the American Freedom Law Center will not sit idly by as the government tries to take away our first freedoms.”
All nonsense, of course. There is no First Amendment right to proselytize children in public schools. As a teacher, she is a government agent. They have no chance whatsoever of winning this case on appeal, even with the current lineup of the Supreme Court. You can read the full ruling here.