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Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Emanuel County School System

United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia
109 F.Supp.3d 1353 (2015)


Facts

Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. (FFRF) (plaintiff) and two of its members, Jane Doe and John Doe (plaintiffs), filed suit in federal district court against the Emanuel County School System (ECS) (defendant) and individual administrative and teaching professionals (defendants), alleging that the defendants had violated the plaintiffs’ civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by endorsing prayer in a public-school classroom. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees, and court costs. Subsequently, the Does, along with their two children enrolled in elementary school, filed a motion requesting to use pseudonyms during the litigation rather than their actual names out of fear of reprisal from members of the community. In support of their request, the plaintiffs filed declarations stating that their children had been bullied and singled out for not participating in the classroom prayer. Additionally, the declarations stated that the defendant-teachers had pressured the children to ignore the wishes of their parents and join in classroom prayer. When the children refused, the teachers ostracized the children. Given this conduct by the defendants, the plaintiffs argued that they needed to remain anonymous or else suffer broader harm from the community.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Smith, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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