WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court refused Monday to get involved in a fight over a Jesus poster that a New York kindergarten student submitted for a class assignment on ways to save the environment.
The Baldwinsville Central School District in suburban Syracuse wanted justices to stop a lawsuit filed by Antonio Peck and his parents, who claim his free-speech rights were violated when school officials censored his poster.
The justices' action leaves in place an appeals court ruling that requires a trial to determine whether Antonio's rights were violated when school officials obscured a robed figure in the boy's poster in displaying it at a school assembly in 1999.
The New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had agreed with the school district that there was no evidence to suggest teachers or administrators had acted with hostility toward religion when they folded Antonio's poster in half.
And the appeals court found that Antonio's poster was not responsive to his teacher's assignment to "save the environment" by depicting trash collection and conservation efforts.
But the appellate court said a trial must be held to determine whether Antonio's free-speech rights were violated because his poster was censored by the district's viewpoint on religion.
Antonio, now in the sixth grade, received considerable help from his mother, JoAnne, with two posters, the first of which was rejected because it did not depict any conservation efforts to save the environment.
The case is Baldwinsville Central School District v. Peck, 05-899.