Bender v. Williamsport Area School District

475 U.S. 534 (1986)

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Bender v. Williamsport Area School District

United States Supreme Court
475 U.S. 534 (1986)

Facts

A group of high-school students (plaintiffs) in the Williamsport Area School District (defendant) formed a club named Petros and sought permission to meet on campus during the regularly scheduled activity periods during the school day. Because Petros meetings involved student prayer, the school district, on advice of their attorney, refused to allow Petros to meet on campus. The students filed a lawsuit against the school district in federal district court alleging constitutional violations. Individual school board members were sued in their official capacity as board members. The trial court ruled in favor of the students. There was no relief granted to the students against any of the individual board members in their individual capacity. The school district did not appeal, but rather complied with the judgment and allowed Petros to meet on campus. An individual board member and parent of a high-school student, Youngman, filed an appeal from the trial court’s judgment. There was no evidence presented to the trial court that Youngman or his child suffered any injury as a result of the trial court’s decision. Neither party raised the issue of whether Youngman had standing to appeal. The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s decision and ruled in favor of Youngman. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Stevens, J.)

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