Bill Odle was quoted in the January 12, 2011 edition of Missouri Lawyers Weekly regarding a school district’s rights not to distribute flyers for a Christian youth soccer group.
“Victory got what it asked for, ”he said. “ When the district first implemented the restrictions, in 2005, to respond to parent protests, it wasn’t aware of the sports camp and didn’t know of its religious angle. The district has never denied a group access based on its viewpoint.”
School district administrators face a long list of organizations trying to inexpensively reach students and parents by utilizing schools to distribute information about non-school groups and activities. Attempts to preclude such groups from requiring schools to distribute their literature have created a wave of litigation by religious organizations, claiming that such policies violate the First Amendment.
Victory Through Jesus Sports Ministry Foundation sued the Lee’s Summit School District in 2009, claiming the school unfairly restricted distribution of its promotional materials. The district turned to Spencer Fane to mount an aggressive defense and to protect its right to manage school resources. A federal judge ruled that the district’s policy of allowing certain groups to distribute flyers did not create a “public forum” open to any group. Further, the judge ruled that the district’s restrictions were reasonable and the camp suffered no religious discrimination.
The case is now being considered by the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals.
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