Religious clubs cases & resources

Monday, December 30, 2002

Religious clubs

Supreme Court

News Club v. Milford Central School,
533 U.S. 98 (2001)
Chapel v. Center Moriches School District,
508 U.S. 384 (1993)

Community Schools v. Mergens
496 U.S. 226 (1990)


Good News Club v. School Dist. of Ladue, 28 F.3d 1501 (8th Cir.

Text of the Equal Access Act (20 U.S.C. Sections 4071-74)

Denial of Equal Access Prohibited Sec. 4071.
(a) It shall
be unlawful for any public secondary school which receives Federal
assistance and which has a limited open forum to deny equal access
or a fair
opportunity to, or discriminate against, any students who wish to
conduct a
meeting within that limited open forum on the basis of the
political, philosophical, or other content of the speech at such
(b) A public secondary school has a limited open forum whenever
such school
grants an offering to or opportunity for one or more
student groups to meet on school premises during
noninstructional time.
© Schools shall be deemed to offer a fair opportunity
to students who wish to
conduct a meeting within its limited open forum if
such school uniformly provides that —
(1) the meeting is voluntary and
(2) there is no sponsorship of the meeting by the school,
the government, or its agents or
(3) employees or agents of the
school or government are present at religious meetings only in
nonparticipatory capacity;
(4) the meeting does not materially and
substantially interfere with the orderly conduct of
educational activities
within the school; and
(5) nonschool persons may not direct, conduct,
control, or regularly attend
activities of student groups.
(d) Nothing in
this subchapter shall be construed to authorize the United States or any State
political subdivision thereof —
(1) to influence the form or content of
any prayer or other religious activity;
(2) to require any person to
participate in prayer or other religious activity;
(3) to expend public funds
beyond the incidental cost of providing the space for
(4) to compel any school agent or employee to attend a school
meeting if the
content of the speech at the meeting is contrary to the
beliefs of the agent
or employee;
(5) to sanction meetings that are
otherwise unlawful;
(6) to limit the rights of groups of students which are
not of a specified numerical
size; or
(7) to abridge the constitutional
rights of any person.
(e) Notwithstanding the availability of any other
remedy under the Constitution or the laws of
the United States, nothing in
this subchapter shall be construed to authorize the United
States to deny or
withhold Federal financial assistance to any school.
(f) Nothing in this
subchapter shall be construed to limit the authority of the school, its
or employees, to maintain order and discipline on school premises, to
protect the well-being of
students and faculty, and to assure that attendance
of students at meetings is voluntary. Definitions Sec. 4072. As used in
this subchapter —
(1) The term “secondary school” means a public school which
provides secondary education as determined
by State law. (2) The term
“sponsorship” includes the act of promoting, leading, or participating in a
meeting. The
assignment of a teacher, administrator, or other school employee
to a meeting for custodial purposes
does not constitute sponsorship of the
(3) The term “meeting” includes those activities of student groups
which are permitted under a school's
limited open forum and are not directly
related to the school curriculum.
(4) The term “noninstructional time” means
time set aside by the school before actual classroom instruction
begins or
after actual classroom instruction ends.
Severability Sec. 4073.
any provision of this subchapter or the application thereof to any person or
circumstances is judicially
determined to be invalid, the provisions of the
remainder of the subchapter and the application to other
persons or
circumstances shall not be affected thereby.
Construction Sec.
The provisions of this subchapter shall supersede all other provisions
of Federal law that are inconsistent
with the provisions of this