The federal appeals court in Philadelphia has upheld a New Jersey school district’s ban on religious songs during the Christman holiday season.
In their ruling, three judges of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals noted that such songs were once common in public schools, but that times have changed.
Michael Stratechuk sued the Maplewood-South Orange School District in 2004, saying the ban violated his two children’s First Amendment’s freedom of worship rights.
Not so, said the appeals court.
“Certainly, those of us who were educated in the public schools remember holiday celebrations replete with Christmas carols, and possibly even Hanukkah songs, to which no objection had been raised,” the court said in its ruling.
“Since then, the governing principles have been examined and defined with more particularity. Many decisions about how to best create an inclusive environment in public schools, such as those at issue here, are left to the sound discretion of the school authorities.”
Stratechuk’s lawyer, Robert Muise. told The Star-Ledger of Newark and Record of Bergen County’s Statehouse Bureau he’ll ask the full appeals court to rehear the case and he may appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.