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February 04, 2005

Chalk one up for the good guys

From AgapePress:

Aloma Elementary School was holding a carnival to honor students who raised funds for the tsunami relief effort. The Orange County school initially invited Christian radio station Z88.3 FM to do a live broadcast at the carnival, but later told the station it could not because a parent had complained the station's participation would violate the so-called “separation of church and state.”

The Central Florida station then called Orlando-based Liberty Counsel, asking the group to represent the station. According to LC senior litigation counsel Rena Lindevaldsen, the legal firm contacted the school district immediately.

“We sent them a demand letter indicating that this is really unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination, and that the only reason the group was not allowed was because they were a religious organization,” she says. And Liberty Counsel was not the only group the district heard from, as the attorney explains. “The radio also had their listeners call in to the community relations department. Between the two, within two hours the school district had recanted.”

Lindevaldsen explains an aspect of the basis for their legal argument on the station's behalf. “Justice [Sandra Day] O'Connor, in one of her Supreme Court decisions, explained that our Constitution can't be subject to a heckler's veto,” she says. “One person who might be offended can't dictate what constitutional rights of others can be exercised -- and that's what happened here.”

The school district changed their stand, and is allowing the radio station at the carnival.

Posted by Jack Lewis at February 4, 2005 09:33 AM

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