Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Inter-School Athletic Eligibility Rules Do Not Violate Free Exercise Rights of Home-School Family

In Chapman v. Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, (MD PA, June 18, 2014), a Pennsylvania federal district court rejected a claim by the parent of a home-schooled student that rules on eligibility to participate in inter-school athletics violate her free exercise rights, as well as her equal protection rights and the right to direct the education of her son.  At issue is a rule that allows home-schooled students to participate only on teams of their local public school, and not on a parochial school team.  Plaintiff claimed that the rule prevented "the home-schooler who is committed to play in a God-centered environment" from doing so. The court found that the rule is neutral and generally applicable so that it need only satisfy the "rational basis" test, and that any burden on religious exercise is minimal.