Federal Judge Orders School District To Allow After-School Satan Club
A federal judge on Monday ordered that a Pennsylvania school district must allow The Satanic Temple (TST) to use school property for its clubs, according to the ruling.
The ACLU filed a lawsuit against Saucon Valley School District (SVSD) after it allegedly denied an application from TST to host its “After School Satan Club,” despite having accepted the request earlier. A federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania issued a preliminary injunction Monday, requiring the district to allow the club while the lawsuit continues, according to the ruling.
“When confronted with a challenge to free speech, the government’s first instinct must be to forward expression rather than quash it,” the ruling read. “Here, although The Satanic Temple, Inc.’s objectors may challenge the sanctity of this controversially named organization, the sanctity of the First Amendment’s protections must prevail. Indeed, it is the First Amendment that enumerates our freedoms to practice religion and express our viewpoints on religion and all the topics we consider sacred.”
The district initially approved TST’s application to start one of its clubs on campus but rescinded the decision several days later after students’ families reacted with outrage that a satanic club was going to be allowed on campus. SVSD informed TST in February 2023 that the district had changed its decision because the organization’s permission slips sent to parents had not clearly explained that the club was not endorsed by the school or the district.
In the ruling, however, the judge said that since SVSD’s decision changed due to “The Satanic Temple’s controversial views on religion and the community’s negative reactions thereto,” the district had violated the First Amendment.
“The Court agrees,” the judge wrote. “Use of government regulations or statutes as pretext to shut down an organization or business because of the content of its speech or some undesired secondary effects of that speech violates the First Amendment.”
The ACLU commended the judge’s “powerful message” in a Monday press release.
“We applaud the court for recognizing the threat to the First Amendment rights of the After School Satan Club and The Satanic Temple and preventing Saucon Valley School District from continuing its brazen discrimination,” Sara Rose, deputy legal director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said in a press release. “This ruling sends a powerful message that the First Amendment protects the viewpoints and beliefs of all people and faiths.
TST and SVSD did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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