Out of the blue today I got a call from somebody at the Liberty Institute, who said she was returning my message. "I guess you're calling about 'The Candy Cane Case,'" she said. Um ... no? I think it was about this, actually, but that was a couple of weeks ago. But ... you don't mean this Candy Cane Case, do you? Yuh-hunh. The very same one.
You remember, right? Eight years ago,
Only it wasn't, because the courts refused to dismiss Lynn Swanson, principal of Thomas Elementary, and Jackie Bomchill, principal of Rasor Elementary, from the original litigation. Which is what led to an en banc hearing in front of all 16 judges of the Fifth Circuit just two days ago.
"They grant that to very few cases, and the majority have to say yes, and they said yes in this case," says Josh Skinner, the Dallas attorney repping the Plano principals who asked for the Monday hearing in order to have the teachers released from the lawsuit.
Liberty's making a Big Deal out of this, insisting the hearing's "outcome could impact 41 million American students" who, it says, are being deprived of their "constitutional freedoms." Here's Liberty Legal's brief prepared for Monday's oral arguments, which, it insists, "is to ensure that school officials treat all students' religious and non-religious views with even-handed respect [because] the Constitution and clearly established law demand nothing less." They've even made a lengthy video, which was posted to YouTube last week and which follows after the jump. (Ken Starr cameo!)
Skinner was kind enough to send his brief, which says, in short: Everyone else in the district's been dismissed from the suit, so his clients should be too. And as for the video ...
"It misrepresents what happened, that's the biggest problem with it, and it misrepresents the legal issues," he tells Unfair Park. "The long and the short of it is they weren't discriminating against anyone. Nobody was being prevented from distributing something because it was religious. District policy didn't allow anything to be distributed. And the legal issue is a very narrow issue dealing with the fact the case law is confusing, but the plaintiffs' attorneys have described it as trying to take rights away from lots of school children, and they're ignoring cases from around the country talking about how confusing it is. Some of the cases involved religious materials, and in some of the cases it's not religious materials. But across the board judges have been unsure how involved federal courts should be in elementary schools."
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He says an answer from the court is expected within three to six months. In other words, Christmas is coming early for someone. Your presents, however, are after the jump.