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Does1-9 v.EJCSD

Does1-9 v.EJCSD

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Published by legalclips
A Wisconsin federal district court has ruled that a school district did not violated the First Amendment Establishment Clause rights of students and parents by holding graduation and senior honors night ceremonies at local Christian church. It concluded the conducting the ceremonies such a venue was neither coercive nor had the primary effect of endorsing religion, nor lead to excessive entanglement with religion.
A Wisconsin federal district court has ruled that a school district did not violated the First Amendment Establishment Clause rights of students and parents by holding graduation and senior honors night ceremonies at local Christian church. It concluded the conducting the ceremonies such a venue was neither coercive nor had the primary effect of endorsing religion, nor lead to excessive entanglement with religion.

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Categories:Types, Research, Law
Published by: legalclips on Jul 21, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/06/2013

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On June 2, 2009, the court issued an oral decision denying the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary
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injunction. A summary written order followed that same day. On September 15, 2009, this court issued aMemorandum Decision further explaining the reasoning underlying the court's June 2, 2010, order.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTEASTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSINDOES 1, 7, 8, and 9, Individually;DOES 2, 4, 5, and 6, Individually,and as taxpayers; DOES 3, a minor,by DOES 3's next best friend, DOE 2,Plaintiffs,v.Case No. 09-C-0409ELMBROOK JOINT COMMON SCHOOLDISTRICT NO. 21,Defendant.DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARYJUDGMENT (DOC. # 44), DENYING PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARYJUDGMENT (DOC. # 52), AND DISMISSING CASEThe plaintiffs filed this action against defendant Elmbrook Joint CommonSchool District No. 21 (hereinafter “the Elmbrook School District” or “the District”), on April22, 2009, contending that the District’s practice of holding graduation ceremonies andpreparatory activities for two public schools at the Elmbrook Church violates the First andFourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Accompanying the complaintwas a motion for preliminary injunction barring the graduation ceremonies set for June 6and June 7, 2009, from being held at the Elmbrook Church (hereinafter “Church”) or in anyother house of worship. After hearing from the parties and a full review of the materials submitted, thiscourt denied the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction on June 2, 2009. Afterward,
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the plaintiff filed an amended complaint seeking a permanent injunction barring the Districtfrom conducting future commencement ceremonies or any other school event, in the
Case 2:09-cv-00409-CNC Filed 07/19/10 Page 1 of 27 Document 77
 
 
The parties have submitted set of stipulated proposed findings of fact, which this court has
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incorporated into the background section, as well as separate proposed findings of fact.
- 2 -Elmbrook Church or other religious venue. Alternatively, the plaintiffs seek a permanentinjunction barring the District from holding school events at the Elmbrook Church unlessall visible religious symbols are covered or removed. Additionally, the plaintiffs requestmonetary damages, attorneys fees, and a declaratory judgment that the practice of holdinghigh school graduation ceremonies in a house of worship violates their rights under theU.S. Constitution. Cross motions for summary judgment on all claims are now before thecourt.I. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARDIn deciding a motion for summary judgment, a court must view the evidencein the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Hicks v. Midwest Transit, Inc 
., 479 F.3d468, 470 (7th Cir.2007). On cross motions, the court construes “all facts and inferencestherefrom ‘in favor of the party against whom the motion under consideration is made.’”
In re United Air Lines Inc.
, 453 F.3d 463, 468 (7th Cir. 2006) (quoting
Kort v. Diversified Collection Servs., Inc 
., 394 F.3d 530, 536 (7th Cir. 2005)). Summary judgment isappropriate when “there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the movant isentitled to judgment as a matter of law.Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).II. BACKGROUND
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Of primary concern to the plaintiffs are graduation exercises for two publichigh schools in the Elmbrook School District, Brookfield, Wisconsin, that have been heldat the Elmbrook Church, a Christian facility, also in Brookfield, Wisconsin. BrookfieldCentral High School (“Brookfield Central”) has held its annual commencement exercises
Case 2:09-cv-00409-CNC Filed 07/19/10 Page 2 of 27 Document 77
 
- 3 -at the Church since 2000, and Brookfield East High School (“Brookfield East”) has doneso since 2002.The instant action was prompted by graduation ceremonies that were set for June 6 and June 7, 2009. The District contends that starting in 2010, graduationceremonies are to be held in newly constructed, District-owned facilities. Relatedly, theplaintiffs complain of Brookfield Central’s past use of the Elmbrook Church for its annualSenior Honors Night.The plaintiffs include students and parents of students at Brookfield East andBrookfield Central who have attended the schools’ graduation ceremonies and associatedactivities, or who plan to attend such events in future years. Doe 1 is a 2009 graduate of Brookfield East, and participated in the Brookfield East graduation ceremony at theChurch. In addition, Doe 1 attended the graduation ceremony of an older sibling, whichwas held at the Church within the past four years. Moreover, Doe 1 subscribes to areligious faith other than Christianity and is offended by having to attend graduationceremonies in a Christian church.Doe 2 is a parent of Doe 1, and sues on Doe 2's behalf and as next bestfriend of Doe 2's younger (minor) child, Doe 3. Doe 2 and Doe 3 were family guests at Doe1's 2009 graduation ceremony at the Church, as well as the graduation ceremony of Doe1's older sibling. Both subscribe to the same religious faith as Doe 1. Also, Doe 2 paysproperty taxes to the District and objects to the use of public funds for District-sponsoredevents at the Church.Does 4, 5, and 6 are District taxpayers who object to the use of their taxmoneys to support the District-sponsored events at the Church. Doe 4 has children in theDistrict school system, the oldest of whom is set to graduate in 2016. Doe 4 is a humanist
Case 2:09-cv-00409-CNC Filed 07/19/10 Page 3 of 27 Document 77

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