Elmbrook Graduation in Church Case Goes to Full Appellate Court

The full federal appellate court will hear arguments Thursday in the lawsuit filed against Elmbrook by the Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

A full federal appeals court will hear arguments Thursday on whether the Elmbrook School District violated any laws when it formerly held its graduation ceremonies in a church.

The full 10-member U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit based in Chicago agreed to hear the case in November. The full court vacated a three-member panel's .

Elmbrook said for comfort and space it held its graduation ceremonies for years at , a nondemoninational Christian in the Town of Brookfield.

Superintendent Matt Gibson asked the church to cover its large cross in the sanctuary above the graduation stage but the church refused and there were other religious symbols and in some cases, some evangelism near the entrance, according to the lawsuit brought by the Washington D.C.-based organization. Families sat in the pews.

Elmbrook moved its graduation ceremonies back to the high school in 2010, after building a new field house at .

But the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who sued on behalf of nine families whose names were kept anonymous, said their clients want to ensure Elmbrook doesn't return the ceremonies to the church.

The three-member panel heard oral arguments in February 2011 and issued a 54-page ruling in September 2011. The full court will hear arguments Thursday and it was unknown when a decision may be made.


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