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Supreme Court of the United States

K.A. v. Pocono Mountain School District

Last Updated: 6/2/2020

Overview

What's at stake

  • The freedom of students to share their faith at school without fear of censorship or punishment
  • Students being told that they can't invite their friends and classmates to church or other religious activities

Summary

K.A. is a devout Christian who wanted to share her love of Christ to her friends at school. When her church announced it was hosting a community-wide Christmas party for children, K.A. thought it would be the perfect opportunity to invite her friends to church. When she brought several invitations to school to give out during free time, she was stopped by a teacher and told she had to get permission. The superintendent denied her request, even though other students regularly hand out invitations to birthday parties and other non-school events. Community groups are even permitted to send out announcements and advertisements promoting their after school activities.

With the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, K.A. filed a lawsuit against the school district to challenge the censorship of her religious expression. The district court ruled in her favor and enjoined the school from prohibiting her religious invitations. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld the decision, finding that younger students have the same First Amendment rights as older students. The court also struck down the two policies the school relied on to deny K.A.'s flyers, a ruling that will impact hundreds of other school districts throughout Pennsylvania that have similar policies on the books.

Building upon this important victory, Alliance Defending Freedom continues to fight for students like K.A. who are told that their religious expression is not welcome inside the schoolhouse gates.  

Our role in this case

Alliance Defending Freedom represented K.A. and defended her First Amendment rights at both the lower court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

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Resources

Legal Documents

Court
Title
Date
{"docs": [{"Court": "TrialCourt", "Title": "Denial of motion for reconsideration", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/k.a.-v.-pocono-mountain-school-district/k-a-v-pocono-mountain-school-district---denial-of-motion-for-reconsideration.pdf", "Date": "10/31/2017 3:02:16 PM"}, {"Court": "TrialCourt", "Title": "Preliminary injunction order", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/k.a.-v.-pocono-mountain-school-district/k-a-v-pocono-mountain-school-district---preliminary-injunction-order.pdf", "Date": "10/31/2017 3:02:17 PM"}, {"Court": "TrialCourt", "Title": "Complaint", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/k.a.-v.-pocono-mountain-school-district/k-a-v-pocono-mountain-school-district---complaint.pdf", "Date": "10/31/2017 3:02:16 PM"}, {"Court": "AppellateCourt", "Title": "3rd Circuit opinion", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/k.a.-v.-pocono-mountain-school-district/k-a-v-pocono-mountain-school-district---3rd-circuit-opinion.pdf", "Date": "10/31/2017 3:02:16 PM"}]}

Biographies

David A. Cortman

Senior Counsel, Vice President of U.S. Litigation

David A. Cortman serves as senior counsel and vice president of U.S. litigation with Alliance Defending Freedom.

Matt Sharp

Senior Counsel, State Government Relations National Director

Matt Sharp serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where he directs the Center for Legislative Advocacy.

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