Religious song ban at N.J. school upheld

PHILADELPHIA, N.J. (AP) - November 25, 2009

The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia upheld the Maplewood-South Orange school district's ban on celebratory religious music.

The three-judge panel on Tuesday said constitutional principles require public schools to remain strictly secular environments.

The court said public school administrations can determine which songs are appropriate according to constitutional guidelines to create a secular "inclusive environment."

Parent Michael Stratechuk in 2004 sued, saying the ban violated the First Amendment's freedom of worship provision.

His lawyer, Robert Muise, told The Star-Ledger of Newark and Record of Bergen County's Statehouse Bureau he'll ask the court to rehear the case and may appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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