ACLU accused of wanting to chill speech at Florida graduations

The ACLU is working to muzzle the free speech of students in Florida.  From One News Now.

Jim Brown

A Christian legal group says the American Civil Liberties Union is overreacting in its attempt to pressure a Florida high school into censoring the religious speech of students. The ACLU is calling on the Duval County School Board to adopt a new student speech policy in light of a recent valedictory address at Wolfson High School in Jacksonville.

During her 20-minute graduation address, Christian student Shannon Spaulding talked about her faith in God and implored the audience to invite Jesus Christ into their lives. Attorney Jeremy Tedesco with the Alliance Defense Fund has sent a letter to the board, informing it that Spaulding’s speech did not violate the supposed “separation of church and state.”

“Religious speech cannot be treated as second class,” Tedesco argues. “Certainly a student’s First Amendment rights don’t end at commencement ceremonies, especially when you’re a valedictorian who’s been selected or worked hard to have the opportunity to say your peace of mind at a ceremony.”

The attorney says as long as schools have a policy that allows students to have control over the speech they give, there is no violation of the Establishment Clause.

“The interesting thing about this situation is that this exact school district was subject to a lawsuit back in the late 90s, early 2000s, over graduation speeches that contained religious content,” says Tedesco. “And the policy the school district had in place was upheld by a federal court. So there’s no reason for this school to change its policy. Its policy is fully constitutional.”

Now the ACLU is demanding the Duval County School Board amend it graduation speech policy to prevent future recurrences of religious expression at commencement.


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