ATLANTA, Ga. — The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Georgia has allowed a free speech lawsuit filed by a Christian school in Florida to continue after a lower court judge initially dismissed the legal challenge, which centers on the Florida High School Athletic Association’s (FHSAA) prohibition against loudspeaker prayer at football games.
“The lower court was too quick to pull the trigger insofar as it dismissed the appellants’ free speech and free exercise claims,” wrote judge Stanley Marcus, nominated to the bench by then-President Bill Clinton, on behalf of the three-judge panel. “We cannot say whether these claims will ultimately succeed, but Cambridge Christian has plausibly alleged enough to enter the courtroom and be heard.”
As previously reported, Cambridge Christian School in Tampa has a practice of praying over the loudspeaker at every game, and intended to continue its tradition when it earned a spot at the Class 2A Florida state football championship in 2015. As its opponent, University Christian School, was also a Christian institution, the two decided to lead attendees in joint prayer at the game.
Since the championship — held at Camping World Stadium — was in a large venue, the schools requested permission to use the loudspeaker so the prayer could be heard. But the request was denied due to FHSAA’s belief that the allowance would be illegal.
“Although both schools are private and religious-affiliated institutions, the federal law addresses two pertinent issues that prevent us from granting your request,” wrote Executive Director Roger Dearing. “First is the fact that
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