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High court won't hear from boy who tried to distribute religious gifts

By The Associated Press
04.02.04

TRENTON, N.J. — The U.S. Supreme Court will not review the case of a New Jersey student who was prohibited by his public school district from distributing pencils and candy canes with religious messages.

The justices announced last week that they would not hear Walz v. Egg Harbor Township Board of Education, an appeal filed by the family of Daniel Walz. He was a 5-year-old pre-kindergarten student when Egg Harbor Township school officials prevented him from giving the items to classmates at holiday parties in 1998.

His family claimed he was a victim of religious discrimination and the Rutherford Institute, a Charlottesville, Va.-based civil liberties organization, sued on his behalf. But a federal judge ruled that school officials acted properly, and that decision was upheld last August by a three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The pencils in question read "Jesus loves little children" and the candy canes came with cards explaining that their "J" shape was in honor of Jesus Christ and that the red stripes represented his blood.

"I'm disappointed, but I had known it was a long shot," Dana Walz, the boy's mother, told The Press of Atlantic City. She said the family "would do the same thing all over again" if given the opportunity.

Joe Betley, a lawyer for the Atlantic County school district, praised the ruling.

"We believe there was no basis for (the Supreme Court to intervene). We're glad that the Court saw it that way, and hopefully this will be the end of this road," he said.


Previous
3rd Circuit: School can bar boy from distributing religious items
Full court refuses to rehear case of New Jersey student who wanted to give Jesus pencils, candy canes to classmates. 10.03.03

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First Amendment Center Web site offers 2003-04 docket sheet, extensive case data, analysis; experts available for interviews. 07.01.04

Judge allows students to exchange religious Valentines
Temporary restraining order granted after five families file lawsuit accusing Texas school district of banning religious expression. 02.14.06

Girl had right to distribute religious fliers, federal judge rules
Court found that New York school district based rules on 'fear or apprehension of disturbance, which is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression.' 04.03.07

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