Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Judge: WI Schools Can Graduate in Church Building

Brookfield Central and East high schools can hold their upcoming graduation ceremonies in a nearby megachurch, as they have been doing for nearly a decade, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

UPDATE 12/22/12: 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 7-3 in July 2012 reversing the lower court -- school now appealing to the Supreme Court

Also read school district explanation of legal action decisions.

-- From "Judge allows Brookfield high school graduation ceremonies in church" by Amy Hetzner of the [Milwaukee] Journal Sentinel, 6/2/09

U.S. District Judge Charles Clevert delivered his decision following a three-hour hearing last week on a request by a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group to bar the church graduation as an unconstitutional violation of the divide between church and government activities.

In his ruling, Clevert rejected the comparison between holding a secular graduation ceremony in a church with a graduation ceremony that includes a prayer, which the U.S. Supreme Court has held unconstitutional.

School officials and their attorneys defended their choice of Elmbrook Church as the site of graduation ceremonies for Brookfield Central and East high schools, saying the church's facility, with its capacity for 3,200 people, was chosen for its convenience and comfort. Ceremonies are secular, despite the presence of Christian iconography, including a large cross that hovers over the dais where graduates receive their diplomas, they argued.

Alex Luchenitser, senior litigation counsel for Americans United for Separation of Church and State . . . said his group would likely appeal . . .

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.