Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Bible In Schools Case Dismissed On Standing and Ripeness Grounds

In Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Mercer County board of Education, (SD WV, Nov. 14, 2017), a West Virginia federal district court dismissed on standing and ripeness grounds a lawsuit challenging a Bible in Schools class offered for over 70 years in Mercer County elementary and middle schools.  Shortly after the lawsuit challenging the program was filed, the county Board of Education voted to suspend teaching of the course for a least a year in order to undertake a review and modification of the curriculum.  While one plaintiff who transferred to another school was found to lack standing, other plaintiffs had standing.  The court nevertheless dismissed because:
the Bible in the Schools program of which plaintiffs’ complain is not currently offered nor will it be offered in the future. Furthermore, should a Bible in the Schools curriculum reemerge, the court has no information before it to determine the content of such a class.... Therefore, until the Bible in the Schools curriculum that Jamie Doe will actually encounter "is presented in clean-cut and concrete form,"... this action is not ripe for judicial review.
FFRF issued a press release announcing the decision. First Liberty also issued a press release on the decision.