Saturday, May 17, 2014

4th Circuit Vacates and Remands Challenge To Elementary School Graduation In Christian Chapel

In American Humanist Association v. Greenville County School District, (4th Cir., May 16, 2014), the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the district court's denial of a preliminary injunction in a suit challenging the holding of graduation ceremonies for a South Carolina elementary school at the chapel of a Christian college and including prayer as part of the official graduation ceremony.  In his ruling from the bench, the district court judge had said that plaintiffs "were making a mountain out of a mole hill." (See prior posting.) The 4th Circuit concluded:
In denying Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, the district court provided no analysis of the law and made no attempt to apply the four factors [to be considered in granting a preliminary injunction] ... to the facts as alleged in the complaint. Thus, we are constrained to remand the case for reconsideration of the issue.
The 4th Circuit similarly vacated and remanded the district court's denial of plaintiffs' unopposed motion to proceed using pseudonyms.  The court also agreed with plaintiffs that on remand the case should be reassigned to a different district court judge. AP reports on the decision.