Gideons take another judicial whuppin’

The Gideon Society loves distributing Bibles in public schools. What’s more, all too many school boards love letting them do it.

Fortunately enough, courts haven’t been taking too kindly to such unconstitutional shenanigans. Here and here we discussed Doe v. South Iron R-1 School District. This week brings us Roe v. Tangipahoa Parish Sch. Bd. (pdf, 11 pages), decided on Tuesday by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Seems that the principal of a Louisiana public middle school, acting on instructions from the school board, allowed the Gideons to distribute Bibles to students outside his office. The principal advised all fifth grade teachers that the Gideons would be there on a particular day and instructed the teachers to tell students about the goings-on. The principal also told teachers to advise students that taking a Bible was entirely voluntary.

Judge Carl J. Barbier held that the Bible distribution violated not one, not two, but all three of the standards for determining whether a governmental entity has violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment: the tripartite test of Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971); the coercion test of Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577 (1992); and the endorsement test of Allegheny County v. ACLU, 492 U.S. 573 (1989). The nominally voluntary nature of the event was, well, nominal, and did nothing to save it.

Soldiers in the Army of the Lord that they are, the school board members voted unanimously to appeal.

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Comments

  • LadyShea  On April 24, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Unfortunately they don’t understand that it merely being endorsed by the school is coercive in and of itself when children are involved.

  • genghishitler  On April 24, 2008 at 10:52 am

    I tend to think they understand that perfectly well. In fact, I think they rely on it. After all, exercises such as this would be pointless in Great Commission terms absent a genuine element of coercion. The notion that such activities are noncoercive is a legal fiction (i.e., bullshit) designed to escape legal consequences.

  • illusory tenant  On April 24, 2008 at 10:54 am

    In addition to the convincing Establishment Clause triple play, that must be about the eleventeenth EC decision featuring Tangipahoa Parish I’ve seen. Maybe we need a “No Adult Left Behind” education bill, because it sounds like there’s some slow learners down there.

  • genghishitler  On April 24, 2008 at 11:37 am

    “No Adult Left Behind” education bill

    Boy, howdy! According to the article linked above, this is the seventh beat-down the Tangipahoa Parish School Board has taken in EC cases, with two more in the pipeline. You’d think the people who live in that school district would be getting a bit tired of paying assloads of attorney fees to defend the indefensible, but I guess not.

  • illusory tenant  On April 24, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    assloads of attorney fees

    Bless their hearts.

  • New Orleans News Ladder  On May 2, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    Judas Wept, Mon! Picking on the Gideons? Go get’em Tiger. I had to hang this one onto today’s Ladder. Wish I’d caught it sooner. There is a comedian on you tube with a geat take on’da Gideons and how you never catch one placing the offensive tomes in a hotel room. I mean has anyone ever actually seen a Gideon? But I can’t find the comedian. DOH!

    By the way that is my band, The Defoliants, that is hung onto the sidebar. Don’t know if there is a connection between Defoliance and Defeasance…but perhaps a congroovience or two, eh? Hope you enjoy.

    Thanks again,
    Bruce
    Editilla~New Orleans News Ladder

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