Federal Judges To Hear Plano ‘Candy Cane Case’

By Marianne Martinez, CBS 11 News

PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – Do young children have First Amendment rights? Federal judges in New Orleans will hear a case Monday morning that could answer that question. Dubbed the ‘Candy Cane Case,’ it all started when a student in the Plano Independent School District was told that he was not allowed to hand out candy canes with religious messages attached.

Officials with the Plano ISD said that they were simply following a district-wide policy that prevents students from distributing religious materials. But as a result, a group of families sued the school district.

The 2004 lawsuit lists several examples of students being prohibited from promoting their beliefs. The young boy was told that he could not pass out candy canes that were tagged with religious messages. In another instance, a little girl was threatened for handing out tickets to an after-school play with a religious theme. Students were also told not to write the words “Merry Christmas” on cards being sent to troops serving overseas.

In a 3-0 decision last year, the same court ruled that two Plano ISD principals violated the constitutional rights of the students. The attorney representing the principals asked the court to re-hear the case before all 17 judges on the Fifth Circuit of Appeals. Although this typically only happens when a case has national implications, it will happen in the ‘Candy Cane Case’ at 10:00 a.m. Monday morning.

Meanwhile, the case has caused the Plano ISD to alter its policy, now allowing students to hand out religious-themed items during non-classroom times, like at recess.

  • http://fortworthinsight.com/news/federal-judges-to-hear-plano-%e2%80%98candy-cane-case%e2%80%99/ Federal Judges To Hear Plano ‘Candy Cane Case’ « Fort Worth News Feeds

    […] Federal Judges To Hear Plano ‘Candy Cane Case’ Do young children have First Amendment rights? Federal judges in New Orleans will hear a case Monday morning that could answer that question. Go to News Source […]

  • david

    Good deal. Common sense

  • suzy

    what a waste of taxpayer money having to defend this case. some people only follow the rules they chose to. These same parents would probably be up in arms had a Muslin group passed out religious tracts to their children during class. I hope the group of parents who brought this suit have to pay all court costs. Worship as you see fit on your own time and on non-tax payer property. it’s not like there is a shortage of religious schools in the area.

    • Leslie Parks

      It isn’t costing the parents a dime! Ha!

  • darrell

    this should not even be a first amendment case. what happened to seperation of church and state? schools are funded through the state and federal governments in most ways. anything “promoting” a religion or religous event shouldnt be allowed.
    in the case of the cards to soldiers, one has no way of knowing what the religious beliefs of the recieving soldier will be. leaving out specific religious messages is understandable.

    • Steve

      Darrell, What everyone seems to overlook is that the so called seperation of Church and State was not ever meant to apply to individuals. It’s only purpose is to prevent the government from establishing a “State Religion” as in many European countries at the time of the writing of the constitution, and as the case in the middle east now. While something like having teachers lead students in prayer is correctly prohibited, allowing students to form after school prayer groups, for whatever religion, should not be prohibited. Your response seems to me to be the average knee jerk response of the anti-religious, you dislike any mention of religion and want to insulate yourself and family from it. And no, I am not a member of any mainstream religion, I just believe in TRUE religious freedom.

      • Chuck E. Jesus

        Even though this is about individuals passing out tracts, a school, which in this case is government run, has the right to curtail this activity because it’s disruptive and divisive. I think someone else brought this up, but what if this were a Muslim kid handing out literature about Mohammad? You’d be all over it like a fly on doo-doo, and you know it! Hard-core Christians only want free speech when it benefits them…and you know that too.

        Regarding claiming that Christians have to “spread the word.” This doesn’t mean you get to do it anywhere/anytime you please. Anyway, Jesus Christ! You people have umpteen radio and TV stations broadcasting your propaganda 24/7; you have churches on almost every street corner in this area, but you still whine about being silenced. Gimmee a break!

      • David A. Burton

        You are correct, Steve, that the First Amendment was never intended to infringe individuals’ rights to practice or evangelize for their religions in ANY venue. In fact, it was intended to protect those rights from federal interference.

        However, the so-called “separation of church and state” was not about prohibiting establishment of a State Religion. In fact, most of the 16 States and many towns already HAD official state religions at that time.

        Rather, the “wall of separation between church and state” was a phrase used by President Thomas Jefferson in a letter (to the Danbury, Conn. Baptists) to explain the Constitutional principle that the FEDERAL government may not interfere with the STATES’ officially established State churches, neither by establishing an official national church, nor by any other means.

        The Baptists were a minority sect in Congregationalist Connecticut. They resented Connecticut’s State support of the official Connecticut State church, and they feared (unfounded) rumors that there were plans afoot to establish an official national church, as well. They wrote to Jefferson in 1801, noting that they understood that he and the federal government had no authority to do anything about their problems with the Conn. State church, but asking for his assurance that there would be no officially established national church. Jefferson replied on January 1st, 1802, agreeing with them on all points, and assuring them that the Constitution creates a “wall of separation between church and state” which prohibits the federal government from doing such a thing. You may read the exchange of letters between Jefferson and the Danbury Baptists here:

        In the following decades, as the population and diversity of the States increased, most States and towns disestablished their official State churches, but it was because popular opinion about the desirability of State Churches shifted against them, it had nothing to do with any Constitutional requirement.

      • Steve

        Darrell, you say you are Christian, yet you deny one of the fundamental tenets of your religion, which is the need for the faithful to spread the message of your religion. As to your questions about other messages being distibuted at school, yes I think they should be allowed within some very limited guidelines. If a parent cannot counteract the message of a poligamist or a radical Islamic, then they are either a poor parent, or have a very weak grasp on their religion. Besides, aren’t many of these things already happening? There are radical Islamic groups on both High School and College campuses, groups that promote racial division, and all of these are supported by the government. Then there are the schools that are forcing the teaching of Islam on our children, but no, they cannot study about Christianity, or Judaism, and this is not voluntary, it is a part of the classroom curiculum. If you are going to get governemnt out of the religion business, then get them out, both in the promotion and the prevention aspects.

      • darrell

        LOL, you crack me up steve. i and my family are christian. im trying to look at a picture that goes beyond a simple message on a candy cane. should the courts allow this type of first amendment rights in schools, or if it does not fall under the seperation of church and state guides it could open some very controversial doors. if students are allowed to distribute religious material on campus then what happens when children in a poligamist family hand out information of the advantages of having 5 wives? what happens when young men who may be into radical islam start using campus’s openly as a recruiting ground for off campus “religious” activities?
        religion is something that begins at home or in your neighborhood. it has no place in a publicly funded education system. it becomes a distraction and a burden for an allready overloaded system.
        what happens when you start having religious conflicts at schools between different groups? where students are hurt or killed?

        will that make first amendment rights and allowing religion into public schools ok?

  • Dennis

    it amazes me that if born in another country and come here it is offensive however if born here it is not tolerated… seems 1st amendment only goes one way anymore!!!

  • david

    For those citing church and state separation. The kids don’t work for the gov’t. Leave them alone

    • darrell

      david, it has to do with the material. it does not matter who is handing it out, it should not be there.

  • suzy

    do you really think the kids went out and bought and printed that material. I would imagine the parents did all the work. and I am basing that on all the school projects i “helped” my kids with when they were in school

  • Chris McPhail

    First Amendment! Start enforcing the laws already on the books… like the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights! That’s the Bill of Basic Human Rights, people!

  • Melissa

    I think we are too worried with “offending” everyone. We worry about offending those who don’t want to see religion in schools but what about the offence to those who have their beliefs?

    • Chuck E. Jesus

      Simple answer; preach in your Churches, not our schools!

      • David A. Burton

        Simple question, Chuck: Why do leftists and anti-Christians like you so despise the Bill of RIghts in general, and freedom of speech & religion in particular? If you are so confident of the correctness of your views, why are you so uncertain that they can prevail in the free market of ideas that you feel you must suppress the expression of opinions different from your own?

  • Todd

    I could careless one way or the other.However,these people better be prepared when someone other than a christian wants to pass out fliers or whatever to other students because they will not be able to stop it without being sued.

  • Melissa

    As Christians though we are charged with being evangelists. While I agree yes there are certain ways to go about it other than beating someone over the head with a Bible we only want to share our joy in Christ’s love with people around us.

    What are we teaching these kids about acceptance if their beliefs are being shut down at such an early age? You see people posting what if there was an Islamic tract being passed around….let’s remember not all Islamic Muslims are bad people.

    You don’t want Christians bringing their faith into school because it doesn’t sit right with you that they do so. Well how do you think it feels to them?

  • MetaEd

    I expect schools to limit student activities when they interfere with teaching. Students are at school to learn. Kids should not be evangelizing in class any more than they should be selling cookies in class. Outside of class, I do not see a problem as long as all brands of religion (or cookie) offered by students are tolerated equally by the school.

  • Reeper

    Yes I want my child to have the right to hand out our faith in Satan to your children. As do the Jews who do not believe Jesus was the savior, thus your only way to salvation. How fast can the NaziParty declare itself a religion? Don’t any of these hold the same rights as your own children do? Don’t worry none of it has to do with my faith, but reflects the door you want open. As I recall I’ve heard of preacher’s children being led astray, so even thought well will not protect your children.
    Spread the word? When did Jesus go to a Roman school to spread the word, why didn’t he follow that spread the word to all bit? Jesus did go to the Jews ONCE to spread it tearing up exactly what goes on in many churches today.
    When the public funds something all people in the public need to be honored and rules set to where they can all be as 1, Americans which is the only thing this Nation is about. It harbors all types with no 1 being any better than another. Those that die to protect your lives at home and abroad come from many beliefs, when your the only ones dieing for the rest of us then you may hold more rights.

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