Carrico’s bill will land Virginia schools back in court

Monday, January 27, 2014

Virginia lawmakers tempted to thrust local public school divisions back into the government prayer wars should be prepared to defend the mandate in court.

That almost certainly is where schools will land if Sen. Bill Carrico’s SB236, an amendment to the state code relating to students’ expression of religious views, becomes law. Carrico would require every school division to create “a limited public forum at any school event at which a student is permitted to speak, including graduation ceremonies.”

He and the vice president of the Virginia Christian Coalition told a Senate committee last week that schools would be protected from lawsuits on First Amendment grounds by also requiring the division to issue a disclaimer in advance stating it “does not endorse any religious viewpoint that may be expressed by student speakers.” He may fervently believe this will protect schools from litigation by religious minorities and nonbelievers, but that is arguable.

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