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Tuesday, November 17, 2009
New Jersey teen sues school for violating her First Amendment free-speech and religious-freedom rights after she was barred from participating in pro-life protest
The girl, identified in court papers as C.H., says she asked the Bridgeton High School principal last month for permission to join in the Pro Life Day of Silent Solidarity, a worldwide protest organized each year by Stand True, a ministry in Troy, Ohio. But the principal said no, telling her she couldn't do anything "religious," according to her lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Camden by a lawyer hired by the Alliance Defense Fund, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based legal group that takes on religious freedom cases on behalf of Christians.[..]

ADF senior counsel David Cortman says his group has intervened in dozens of cases across the country over the six years the protest has been held and has filed suits in about a dozen. He said some have been successful and others are still pending.

Cortman said the group has heard from students barred from protesting last month at two other New Jersey schools, as well as schools in Oklahoma, Virginia, Texas and Idaho.

When schools bar the protests, he said, they usually cite the separation of church and state — which his group says is not in the Constitution.

"The school district basically held that there is no religion allowed in school, which violates the students' First Amendment rights," Cortman said.

In the Bridgeton case, the student planned to remain silent on Oct. 20, except when called on in class at her public school. She also wanted to wear an armband with the word "life" on it and to hand out anti-abortion pamphlets. Some students who participate in the protest put tape across their mouths to show they're speaking for the unborn, who can't speak for themselves, Cortman said.

Alexa swing by at 12:48 PM

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