VICTORY: American Humanist Association, Inc. v. Douglas County School District RE1
In 2014, the AHA filed a lawsuit on behalf of a district parent objecting to numerous unconstitutional activities of the school district in promoting Christianity including promotion of a church-sponsored service trip to Guatemala involving students.
The AHA appealed the District Court’s dismissal of the case and argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in November 2016. In June 2016, the Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the lower court and remanded the case.
In July 2018, a federal district judge ruled on remand that the Douglas County School District in Colorado violated the Establishment Clause by sending flyers and emails asking parents to make donations toward the trip, and by hosting a supply drive at a school.
“The Court finds that defendants’ actions amounted to ‘an excessive government entanglement with religion,” U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson wrote. “...The District itself described its relationship with the … supply drive as a ‘partnership.’ These actions and words had ‘the effect of advancing . . . religion.’”
In September 2018, the parties conferred and settled AHA’s award of attorneys’ fees and costs.
Selected Docket Files:
District Court (Case No. 1:14-cv-02878-RBJ):
Complaint (filed October 22, 2014)
Plaintiffs’ Brief in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment Supplemental (filed September 08, 2017)
Court Order (filed July 17, 2018)
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (Case No. 16-1049):
Appellants-Petitioners’ Brief (filed May 2, 2016)
Court Order reversing lower district court’s ruling (issued June 20, 2017).
Selected Media Coverage:
Politico (August 10, 2018)
Morning Education (Daily Publication) by Mel Leonor
JULY 18, 2018
The Constitution frowns upon religious activity in public schools.
JUNE 20, 2017
Ruling reverses lower court dismissal.
NOVEMBER 16, 2016
Legal Director David Niose gives oral arguments in Colorado church/state separation case.
NOVEMBER 15, 2016
The AHA presents oral arguments in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals tomorrow.
AUGUST 1, 2016
The AHA defends the standing of local families harmed by a school district's Establishment Clause violations.
MAY 3, 2016
The AHA defends local families after a district court says they can't challenge a school district's religious promotion.
FEBRUARY 16, 2016
The AHA continues to seek justice for families in Highlands Ranch, CO, whose First Amendment rights were violated.
APRIL 22, 2015
American Humanist Association and SkyView Academy reach settlement.
OCTOBER 22, 2014
The Appignani Humanist Legal Center challenges a public school's practices of supporting Christianity.