Supreme Court Denies Cert. in Case Involving Valedictorian’s Religious Graduation Address

November 30, 2009

The Supreme Court today declined to hear an appeal of a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision rejecting a high school student’s challenge to the school’s limits on her valedictory remarks. 

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision in Corder v. Lewis Palmer School District No. 38 in May of this year.  The 10th Circuit Court rejected claims brought by high school valedictorian Erica Corder, whose graduation ceremony address encouraged students to accept Jesus Christ.   Corder had presented a different version of the speech in advance to the school’s principal, but later added her religious remarks without telling school officials. The school forced her to apologize in order to receive her diploma.  The 10th Circuit court rejected Corder’s free speech, free exercise, equal protection, and state statutory challenges, finding that her remarks were school-sponsored, not private speech.

Today the Supreme Court declined to hear Corder’s appeal.  This does not mean that the Supreme Court endorsed the 10th Circuit’s decision in the case; rather, it means that the Court is allowing the decision to stand without comment.