Lawyers filed a formal petition with the United State Supreme Court on Friday asking the high court to consider the Elmbrook School District graduation case.
“If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the school district’s appeal, it has the potential to become one of the most significant church–state cases in many years,” said Luke Goodrich, Deputy General Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is working on behalf of Elmbrook School District.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in July that Elmbrook violated the Constitution's First Amendment when it held public high school graduations at Elmbrook Church amid religious imagery including a large cross over the stage and Bibles in the pews where attendees sat.
The 7-3 ruling was the first victory for the families and overturned previous federal district and appellate panel rulings in favor of the school district. Elmbrook said it held its graduations there because the air-conditioned, large auditorium offered more seating and comfort than the school gyms, and no religious prayers or references were made.
Elmbrook hasn't held its graduations at the church since 2009 — now holding them at a newly built East Field House, but the districts wants clarification on whether in the future it could rent religious facilities for school events.
The School Board capped the amount the district will spend on the litigation at $15,000, but it likely will not have to pay that given the pro bono work. The district did have to pay a $5,000 insurance deductible.