Attorneys Submit Letter to Austin ISD Clarifying Constitutionality of Students’ Private Speech Expressed Through Singing Christmas Carols
AUSTIN, TX, December 19, 2013—Today, Liberty Institute and Texas Values submitted a letter of explanation to Austin ISD administrators who discouraged members of the Anderson High School Choir from singing Christmas carols and other holiday songs at private homes in the community. The letter assures administrators that it is constitutional for students to engage in private speech through singing religious songs. To read the letter online, please click here.
“The Christmas carols are the students’ private speech because the performances are student-initiated and occur during non-instructional time. The District need not worry about the perception of religious endorsement,” said Mike Berry, Liberty Institute attorney. “We are hopeful that the Christmas caroling will continue as it has in years past and that this misunderstanding won’t spoil the students’ tradition of spreading holiday cheer.”
Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values, a public policy organization, based in Austin, Texas, said, “Once again we see a Texas public school representative discouraging Christmas expressions by students. The Merry Christmas Texas project that we are leading and the new Merry Christmas law was designed to show schools they don’t have to be speech police on these Christmas issues. If schools would just follow the law, we would not have these problems.”
For the past several years, members of the Anderson High School Choir sang Christmas carols and other seasonal music at private homes. This year an attorney for the District advised against the Christmas carols because of a misconception that including religious songs would be an Establishment Clause violation.
About Texas Values
Liberty Institute is a national law firm dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches, in our military and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our Founding Fathers. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.