The Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Ohio has agreed to weigh the arguments in a case involving elementary students who were prevented from reading the Bible on the school's playground during recess.
Samuel and Tina Whitson, parents of Knoxville (TN) student Luke Whitson, filed suit in June 2005, claiming Karns Elementary School principal Cathy Summa violated their son's First Amendment rights by stopping the Bible studies. They chose to pursue the matter even though the school soon thereafter changed its policy to permit students to read religious texts during their own time.
A Knoxville jury sided with the school district in 2009 and a U.S. district judge turned down a request to overturn that decision, prompting the appeal.
Phil Burress, president and executive director of Citizens for Community Values in Cincinnati, asks: "What other book could the students possibly be looking at that the school would take action against them and stop them from reading? Whatever happened to right to read?"
Burress says he is glad that a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit is taking up the case.
"And there's no question [in my mind] that the Sixth Circuit will reverse this case ..." he shares. "In the Sixth Circuit of the state of Ohio we've had a lot of good rulings -- and I am glad that they took the case, and I look forward to their decision."
The Whitsons' case is being handled by Alliance Defense Fund.