DENVER — A federal appeals court has refused to revive a lawsuit filed by a student who was punished after talking about her religion during her high school graduation speech.
A unanimous three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with a federal judge who threw out the lawsuit last year. The appeals court said in its May 29 ruling Corder v. Lewis Palmer School Dist. No. 38 that Erica Corder was disciplined for failing to follow school policy, not for her religious views.
Lewis-Palmer High School officials in Monument had screened Corder's 2006 speech, but she changed her text and urged the audience to consider the Christian faith.
Before giving Corder her diploma, the principal required her to write a letter explaining her actions and acknowledging the remarks were her personal views.
Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, a Lynchburg, Va.-based religious-rights group that represents Corder, said he would advise Corder to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"This isn't school speech, this is student speech," Staver said. "She can have religious views, just like other students can have secular views."