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U.S. Supreme Court may take Brookfield Elmbrook graduation ceremony case

WASHINGTON D.C. (WTAQ) - The U.S. Supreme Court might announce Monday whether it will take a Wisconsin case, and decide whether a public high school can hold a graduation ceremony in a church.

The Los Angeles Times says the justices have been discussing the Elmbrook Church case since March 29th in their weekly private conferences. But they have not reached a decision on whether to come up with a final ruling.

If they don’t take the case, an appeals court ruling from last July will stand. It said that Brookfield Central and East high schools violated the First Amendment ban on a government endorsement of religion, by holding their commencements at the non-denominational Elmbrook Church.

The double-decked church hosted the ceremonies for most of the last decade, until a new school field house opened in 2010. Luke Goodrich of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty said that if the appellate ruling stands, a “wave of threat letters” will go out to schools across the country that hold events in churches – and they could end up having to pay damages and heavy court costs.

Nine plaintiffs said the Elmbrook arrangement violated the separation of church and state. But Goodrich said, “The Constitution does not require the government to treat churches as contaminated buildings are uniquely unfit for public events.”

The Elmbrook School District took the case to the Supreme Court after losing in the Chicago appeals court.