The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied an appeal from Plano parents who sought to reverse a decision in a years-long lawsuit sparked by candy cane pens in the Plano school district.
Some Plano ISD parents wanted the justices to overturn a lower court’s decision in December that upheld the school district’s policy regulating when students can pass out religious materials, such as the candy cane pens. The court, without comment, declined to hear their appeal.
Kelly Shackelford, president of the Plano-based Liberty Institute, which represented the parents, said he was disappointed by the court’s decision not to hear the case.
“We went as far as we could on that case,” he said. “We think that the Supreme Court really left chaos out there. The court is going to have to clear it up at some point.”
Charles Crawford, attorney for Plano ISD, said, “The district is very pleased that its policy has been upheld as constitutional.”
The candy cane case stems from a December 2003 school party. Thomas Elementary School officials stopped a 9-year-old boy from distributing candy cane pens with a religious message that read, in part, “The blood Christ shed for the sins of the world.”
A year later, the boy’s parents and several more whose children also were prevented from handing out religious-theme materials sued the school district.
The district revised its policy regulating when the materials could be distributed. The new policy permits students to circulate materials before and after school, at three annual parties, during recess and at designated tables in school. Middle and high school students also can hand out items in hallways and during lunch.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld that policy in December.
Despite the Supreme Court’s decision Monday, another part of the case is still unresolved. The appeals court has yet to issue a ruling on whether the district’s earlier policy regarding religious materials was constitutional and whether the principals violated the students’ free speech rights.