Remember the War on Christmas in Plano? The 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Does.

Speaking of old local cases involving schoolchildren sitting in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ...

On Tuesday, the court handed down an opinion in that years-old case involving a Plano Independent School District third-grader and other PISD-off kiddies told by district officials that, no, they couldn't hand out "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" pencils amongst other religious-tinged whatnots ("candy canes with cards describing their Christian origin, tickets to a church's religious musical programs, and tickets to a dramatic Christian play") during a "Winter Party" in 2003. Surely you recall this showdown: Plano-based Liberty Legal Institute calls it "an ongoing case that has the potential of cementing many of the religious freedoms for our children that have taken decades to restore"; John Cornyn filed a brief on behalf of the families; and after getting his facts wrong ("In Plano, Texas, a school told students they couldn't wear red and green because they are Christmas colors"), Bill O'Reilly declared the district's policy "flat-out facism." Right -- that was the beginning of the War on Christmas.

Anyway. The families were upset because, in 2003, the district only prohibited students from passing out unsafe or "obscene, vulgar, or otherwise age-inappropriate" material. In 2005, after the suit was filed, the district adopted a new policy concerning the distribution of materials: 30 minutes before and after school; during any of the three annual parties; during recess; and, yes, during school hours, "but only passively at designated tables," as the court put it. The district said, Look, passing out anything during school hours is disruptive, K? To which the court responded this week by declaring the 2005 policy good and constitutional.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky

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