Published Online: April 5, 2005
Published in Print: April 6, 2005, as Federal Judge Rules District Can Set Limits on Take-Home Fliers

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Federal Judge Rules District Can Set Limits on Take-Home Fliers

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A federal judge has ruled in favor of a Maryland school district that a religious group sued over fliers promoting its Bible-study club.

The Child Evangelism Fellowship of Maryland claimed in a 2001 lawsuit that the Montgomery County public schools violated its First Amendment rights when officials prohibited the fellowship from handing out take-home fliers to elementary pupils or from posting notices in schools. The district said the fliers were religious in nature. The fellowship lost in court and appealed the ruling.

Meanwhile, the Montgomery County district revised its policy last year to allow the fellowship and similar organizations to post fliers on school bulletin boards, but not give them directly to students.

The fellowship sought a permanent court order to allow it to post the fliers and also sought permission to distribute fliers that would be put in students’ cubbies.

U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte, in Greenbelt, Md., ruled on March 24 that a permanent court order was unnecessary because the district had changed its policy. He further ruled that the district could limit the groups that can distribute take-home materials.

Vol. 24, Issue 30, Page 4

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