A school denied the Christian Club members from handing out Bibles during lunch. But, the school states that they encourage all religious materials at their school. A lawsuit is pending. We debate it on Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream.
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Bibles in School? We debate it on Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream
February 12th, 2019
Shannon Bream: Now you remember President Trump Tweeting a couple of days ago, “Numerous states introducing Bible literacy classes, giving students the option of studying the bible. Starting to make a turn back? Great!” Well, tonight there’s a new dispute in Pennsylvania where one district faces a federal lawsuit, claiming officials improperly prevented a high school Christians and Action club from passing out bibles on school property during the day. Is that legal? Let’s bring in tonight’s legal eagles to debate. Constitutional Law attorney Katie Sherkasky, and criminal defense attorney, host on Law and Crime Network, Bob Bianchi. Welcome to you both!
Robert Bianchi: Hi Shannon.
Shannon Bream: So, this is the deal, Mechanicsburg High School said essentially these students want to go around and hand out bibles, but they were told they couldn’t, they tried to negotiate something with the school, the school says you’re not getting the full story. Here is what the Superintendent of Mechanicsburg School said, this is our exhibit B tonight. He says, “it’s a publicity stunt, students do have the right to distribution of non-school materials prior to the start of the school day and after the end of the school day if they develop a plan for time, place and manner of distribution that’s reviewed and approved by the administration.” Bob, what’s wrong with that?
Robert Bianchi: Yeah, this is what we call CYA Shannon, and that’s what’s wrong with it. Because he also said, and I quote “Religious materials, including the bible, have always and will always be welcome to bring, share, and discuss whether it’s Bible, whether it’s the Curran, or whether it’s the Tora. So, you can’t eat your cake and have it too. You can’t have a Christian Club on your campus, say those materials are welcome of all faiths, which I agree with, however you can only distribute those materials thirty minutes before school or thirty minutes after school, and only on public sidewalks. Well, they can do that anyway, so they school’s denying them their lawful right to be able to express their first amendment religious freedom, and freedom of expression at lunch time. Come on guys.
Shannon Bream: All right Katie, let’s go to exhibit D here, because that’s what the lawyers of the students are saying, they say the school district has taken away student’s speech rights in school and even seeks to regulate their speech rights during non-school hours on public sidewalks that every member of the general public possesses. Your arguments?
Katie Sherkasky: Well, that’s just not the case. The school is doing something that is common sense to avoid chaos. They have given these students the opportunity before and after school hours to distribute bibles, they are just simply limiting this this free speech activity during the limited lunch hour, and the reason for that has nothing to do with religion but has to do with opening up the lunch area to a free speech zone. And when you’re doing that, you’re opening a can of worms. You have kids handing out bibles today, then it’s atheist propaganda the next day. You can’t limit who’s handing out what, and the school has every right under the Constitution, to limit the interruptions to the academic environment. So, handing out this material during the school day could arguably be a disruption to that academic environment. So, the school has every right to make this decision.
Shannon Bream: Okay Bob, what about that? The school’s ability to, you know, set limits on how this is done?
Robert Bianchi: Yeah, but that’s not the facts of this case. No one here is suggesting that this is anything other then sanction by the school, it has a Christian Bible Club there. These kids were there, there was no violence, there was no profanity, which are typically the areas on which a Supreme Court has limited speech and freedom of religion. They are just there, if you want it you can do it, now if there was a problem then maybe they would have a legitimate argument. But there hasn’t been, so those facts have not been established. You can’t say that you can distribute materials, and they’re welcome here, but only before and after school. That’s just ludicrous, it’s contradictory, it’s CYA, they’re trying to get out of a Constitutional Quagmire.
Shannon Bream: Okay Katie, your closing argument.
Katie Cherkasky: The school is doing the absolute right thing here. They are preventing a can of worms from being opened and having the lunch hour being overtaken by useless propaganda from all sides. You have kids handing out bibles today, the next day it’s any kind of political speech, any sort of speech of whatever that isn’t violent or discussing illegal activity. And that is all going to have to be permitted by the school, if they let these students take this action during the lunch hour. And that’s just going to be disruptive in the lunch environment, to the academic environment, and that is something that is protected under the Constitution for the school to avoid.
Shannon Bream: All right, we thank you both. We’ll now put it to the jury at home, let us know. Tweet me at ShannonBream@FoxNewsNight, you can use the hashtag night court and let us know how you would rule if you were the jury here. This apparently started back in November, it’s now resulted in a lawsuit. We will follow it. Bob and Katie, thank you both very much.
Robert Bianchi: Thank you Shannon.
Katie Cherkasky: Thank you Shannon.