November 18, 2005

9th Circuit Should Relocate to Mecca

(San Francisco) The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that 7th-graders training for three weeks to be Muslims is not a "religious exercise."

From the

Christian students and parents cannot sue a school district where some seventh-graders pretended to be Muslims for three weeks during a course in world history, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the role-playing game was not a religious exercise that violated anybody's constitutional rights.

The decision was issued one day after the U.S. House of Representatives chastised the 9th Circuit for ruling earlier this month that parents can't sue public schools for providing information about sex. That decision "deplorably infringed on parental rights," said the House resolution.

Thursday's decision came down in an unpublished memorandum, indicating the judges considered it routine.

Students were encouraged to play at being Muslims - adopt Muslim names, recite a line from a prayer and give up candy or television to simulate fasting.

U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton dismissed the case two years ago, saying teaching was not indoctrinating.

The 9th Circuit upheld her decision in a five-sentence ruling, saying only that the activities weren't "overt religious exercises" that would raise concerns under the First Amendment prohibition of "establishment of religion."

Senior Circuit Judge Dorothy Nelson of Pasadena and Circuit Judges Johnnie Rawlinson of Las Vegas and Carlos Bea of San Francisco signed the decision.

The unpublished memo format indicates the appellate judges did not believe they were breaking legal ground. Unpublished decisions cannot be cited in future cases.

So, the 9th Circuit just sort of sloughed off the case as a routine matter that didn't have anything to do with the First Amendment. To be fair, it's become routine for me to feel like vomiting every time the subject of the 9th Circuit comes up.

This is worth seeing also. Companion post at Interested-Participant.

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