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Mother Fights For Son’s First Amendment Rights

A mother may find herself in front of the U.S. Supreme court, fighting for free speech and the separation of church and state. The mother, Donna Kay Busch, must make a decision about the case by August 31st.

church%20and%20state.jpgThe woman has filed a lawsuit against the Marple Newton School District and its officials. The case stems back to 2005 when her child was in Kindergarten. At the time, the children in the class were enjoying an activity called “All About Me Week.” Part of the assignment was to have a parent read from the child’s favorite book to the class. Busch’s son, Wesley, selected the Bible as his favorite book. When Busch went to read from it to the class, she was asked to not do so by the principal, citing the need for separation of church and state.

The case has been ruled on twice. In U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, the court ruled in favor of the school district. In June of 2009, an appeals court upheld the original court’s ruling. They called the classroom a nonpublic setting that, in turn, merited unique consideration of the free speech considerations.

In the ruling, Chief Judge Anthony Scirica stated it was necessary to “create the structured environment in which the school imparts basic social, behavioral and academic lessons.” In particular, the statement pointed out, with children this young, the speech could be interpreted as promotion of religion.

Busch, on the other hand, believes that by taking away her child’s freedom of speech, the school is in violation of the laws of freedom of speech. She will need to make her decision whether or not to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, and further her pursuit of what she call’s Wesley’s fight.