In The School

Supreme Court Denies “Candy Cane” Case, but the Fight for Students’ Religious Rights Intensifies

Posted June 11th, 2012

Candy Cane Case

Morgan v. Swanson

When government officials are not held accountable for their actions, what motivation do they have to prevent them from violating students’ religious rights? No student should ever be subjected to religious discrimination by the government.

On June 11, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Liberty Institute’s petition to hear oral arguments in the famous “candy cane” case, putting the religious freedoms of our nation’s 50 million public school students at risk. The case against Plano Independent School District, however, continues.

Liberty Institute will not rest when it comes to protecting the religious freedoms of students and their families across the nation. We will lead the charge, court by court and district by district, to ensure that our students can express their faith at school without fear of government censorship or punishment.

The Facts

  • Morgan v. Swanson, otherwise known as the “candy cane” case, originated in 2003, in Plano, Texas, when three elementary school students — Jonathan Morgan, Michaela Wade and Stephanie Versher — became the victims of religious viewpoint discrimination.
  • Government school officials told Michaela and Jonathan that the “goodie bags” they brought to exchange at their respective class “winter break” parties were banned from the classroom purely because they contained a religious message. Another school principal confiscated tickets to a religious play that Stephanie distributed to her classmates during recess, even threatening to call police and “kick Stephanie out of school” if she subsequently distributed the materials on campus. Stephanie attempted to give her friends “Jesus” pencils after school outside the school building, and again, a government school official confiscated the pencils.
  • For the past seven years, Liberty Institute has been representing the families, contending that the school officials violated the students’ First Amendment rights. In 2010, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled in favor of the students. The officials appealed the ruling and in September 2011, the full 16-member 5th Circuit Court affirmed that the government school officials violated the First Amendment…but granted the officials immunity.
  • In 2012, Liberty Institute filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to review the 5th Circuit’s decision on immunity. On June 11, 2012, the Supreme Court denied Liberty Institute’s petition to hear oral arguments.
  • The case against Plano ISD continues at the district court and the court of appeals.

It is concerned Americans like you that help us continue our fight to defend and restore religious liberty in this country. Please share this information with your friends and family, pray with us, and donate now!


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