On July 25, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Directors (in California) was indeed violating the Establishment Clause by promoting Christianity at meetings.
They read Bible verses, said explicitly Christian prayers at the exclusion of all other beliefs, railed against marriage equality (presumably in the name of Jesus), etc. It was absolutely illegal, and the judges knew it.
If you’re looking for details of that case, you can read them here. But there’s one important aspect of it that won’t get a lot of attention: Money.
When the Board lost the initial case in 2016, U.S. District Judge Jesus G. Bernal said they had to pay the Freedom From Religion Foundation a whopping $202,971.70 for attorneys’ fees and other costs. That’s a ton of money for a District that could’ve hired four teachers instead.
But because this Board already lacked a sensible majority, they went ahead and hired a law firm, Tyler & Bursch, to keep fighting this lawsuit.
Well, they just lost again and we don’t yet know how much that will hurt the District’s pocketbook.
And because the same idiotic majority is still on the Board, they just voted 3-2 to appeal their case to the Supreme Court. James Na, Andrew Cruz, and Sylvia Orozco chose to keep fighting this ridiculous battle.
This week, Mr. Cruz said “The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, does not reflect the multitudes of Californian family values and laws. Eighty percent of the Ninth Circuit Court appeals has been overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court, which begins its sessions with a prayer ‘God save the United States and this honorable court,’ understands that prayer is a part of our country’s history and government establishments.”
There’s a difference between a nominal shout-out to God at Supreme Court sessions and the kind of Bible readings that took place at school board meetings with a captive audience of children.
While the legal services offered by Tyler & Bursch are free, an appeal to the Supreme Court means that FFRF will also have to file a brief urging the Supreme Court not to take up this case. (It’s an easy argument, since there’s really no controversy in the lower courts about this matter.) Still, the brief takes time to write. That means attorneys will have to get paid.
And that means even if the Supreme Court refuses to hear the case, which is the most likely outcome here, the Chino Valley Unified School District will be on the hook for even more money.
At what point do the people in this community realize they’re getting screwed over by three members of the local school board? The money that should be spent on their children’s education is instead being wasted on a losing legal battle to defend Christian indoctrination.
Read the full story at The Friendly Atheist