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U.S. Department of Justice to write brief in support of ADF “candy cane” case

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WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Justice will write a friend-of-the-court brief in support of a lawsuit Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed against a Michigan school district last year.  The school district prohibited a student from attaching a religious message to candy cane ornaments he passed out to classmates at Christmas.

“The DOJ’s determination to convey its opinion in this case indicates that the present administration has a keen interest in seeing the First Amendment liberties of school children preserved,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeff Shafer.

Of the thousands of civil rights claims litigated throughout the country, relatively few cases see the intervention of the Justice Department as a “friend of the court” seeking to influence the outcome of the case by providing its legal analysis for consideration by the court.

Attorneys with ADF filed Curry v. Saginaw School District on June 16 of last year in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Joel Curry, a student at Handley School in Saginaw, Mich., created and “sold” homemade ornaments in the likeness of candy canes as part of a classroom project.  Attached to the ornaments was a message explaining a popular version of the religious origin of candy canes.  School officials made Curry remove the explanation before he could “sell” his ornaments.

“The suppression of Joel’s messages is a violation of his First Amendment rights,” Shafer explained.  “There is no violation of the so-called ‘separation of church and state’ in this case.  We look forward to reading the DOJ’s brief in support of this student’s religious liberties.”

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family. 

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