Clayton v. Place

690 F. Supp. 850 (1988), rev'd, 884 F.2d 376 (1989)

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Clayton v. Place

United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri
690 F. Supp. 850 (1988), rev'd, 884 F.2d 376 (1989)

Facts

A school district in Purdy, Missouri, had a rule that prohibited schools from holding school dances. A group of students and parents sought to change the rule. Ministers from numerous churches in Purdy supported the rule and preached to their respective congregations that dancing was sinful and against the tenets of their various religions. These ministers, who were part of the Ministerial Alliance, sent a letter to the Purdy school board supporting the rule. No ministers from the Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Jewish, or Mormon religions were members of the Ministerial Alliance. Although no direct mention of religion was made at the school-board meetings, in separate conversations outside of those meetings, several school-board members stated either that their religious beliefs disfavored dancing or that the local ministers strongly opposed dancing. At the last school-board meeting addressing the rule, one of the ministers asked for anyone in attendance to stand if they supported the rule. The vast majority of the attendees stood. The board members allowed the rule to remain in place. Several Purdy parents, students, and taxpayers (plaintiffs) sued the school board and superintendent (collectively, school board) (defendants) alleging that the dance-prohibition rule violated the Establishment Clause. The school board argued that dancing was not a religious issue. After the submission of evidence, the court issued findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Clark, J.)

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