Recent Decisions- SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

Article excerpt

Review Denied

Decisions without published opinions in lower court

DOCKET NO: 07-1341

NAME: Policastro v. Kontogiannis

DATE: Oct. 6, 2008

CITATION: ___ S.Ct. ___

DOCKET NO: 08-116

NAME: Manbeck v. Katonah-Lewisboro School Dist.

DATE: Oct. 6, 2008

CITATION: ___ S.Ct. ___

DOCKET NO: 08-92

NAME: Eggers v. Moore

DATE: Oct. 6, 2008

CITATION: ___ S.Ct. ___

DOCKET NO: 08-243

NAME: Thomas v. Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp.

DATE: Nov. 3, 2008

CITATION: ___ S.Ct. ___

Decisions with published opinions in lower court

DOCKET NO: 07-1368

NAME: Parker v. Hurley

DATE: Oct. 6, 2008

CITATION: ___ S.Ct. ___

Two sets of parents brought suit against school district and district officials under §1983 and Massachusetts state laws alleging that grade school materials depicting same sex couples violated their free exercise of religion. Suit involved the children of two families, the Parkers and the Wirthlins, both of which had children attending the same school. The Parkers' son, Jacob, received books in kindergarten and first grade that depicted various types of families including single parent families and families with two parents of the same gender. Joseph Withlin was in second grade. His second grade teacher read a book to the class for story time. This book contained a depiction of two males falling in love and getting married. Both sets of parents complained that exposure to these materials indoctrinated their children to accept behavior that violated their religious beliefs. Parents requested an injunction requiring the school to allow them to opt their children out of classroom presentations depicting same sex couples, that parents be allowed to attend any presentations in which same-sex relationships might be discussed and that material that graphically portrayed same sex relationships not be presented to students prior to seventh grade. District court dismissed for failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted. Plaintiffs appealed. Held: Plaintiffs did not show any violation of either their free exercise or due process rights. The court found that there is no free exercise right to be free of any reference to same sex couple in public schools. The court also found that requiring a student to read a book also does not impinge on free exercise rights. Parker v. Hurley, 514 F3d 87, cert, denied ___ S.Ct. _____, 77 USLW 3197.

DOCKET NO: 07-1567

NAME: Lowery v. Euverard

DATE: Oct. 6, 2008

CITATION: ___ S.Ct. ___

Four high school students brought First Amendment suit against football coach, principal, and Department of Education for dismissal from football team. Students were among group of players who signed statement "I hate Coach Euvard [sic] and I don't want to play for him." Goal of petition was to attempt to obtain enough signatures to get coach fired. Coach learned of petition and interviewed all players to determine who signed petition. Players who signed petition, but indicated that they still wished to play football for the coach and apologized, were allowed to remain on the team. The four dismissed players indicated they did not want to play for the coach. Dismissed students brought suit claiming that their dismissal violated their First Amendment rights. Defendants asked for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. District court denied summary judgment. Defendants appealed ruling. Held: No constitutional violation occurred when the coach dismissed the players and the district court erred in not granting summary judgment. The court found that while players have the right to express their opinion, they do not have the right to do so in a way that would disrupt team unity or undermine a coach's authority. …