Friday, March 20, 2015

6th Circuit Rejects Good News Club's Fee Waiver Claim

In Child Evangelism Fellowship, Inc. v. Cleveland Metropolitan School District, (6th Cir., March 20, 2015), the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision affirmed the denial of a preliminary injunction in a suit by Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) which had claimed that it was entitled to a waiver of fees for use of school facilities for its Good News Club meetings. CEF claimed that the school system engaged in viewpoint discrimination by waiving fees for the Boy Scouts but not for CEF. The majority said:
As the district court concluded, CEF’s evidence in support of its request for injunctive relief did not adequately show that the District had a fee-waiver policy. To the contrary, at this early juncture, the record supports the District’s position that it merely accepted in-kind payment in lieu of monetary fees.
Judge White dissented, saying that the in-kind contributions by the Boy Scouts to participating students did not amount to compensation to the school district, and thus amounted to a fee waiver.  She said:
I agree that CEF failed to “show[] that a fee-waiver policy even exists.” ... CEF has shown, however, that a fee-waiver practice existed between the District and the Boy Scouts and that despite repeated requests, the District did not provide CEF with a similar arrangement....
(See prior related posting.) [Thanks to Tom Rutledge for the lead.]