Beliefnet
Lynn v. Sekulow

Barry, 

It took only a few hours before a federal court in New York acted on our request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and cleared the way for our client, 13-year-old Raymond Hosier of Schenectady who had been suspended indefinitely for wearing a Rosary, to return to school.   

We filed a federal complaint  along with a request for a TRO and Preliminary Injunction – urging the court to take immediate action so Raymond could return to school wearing the Rosary that means so much to him.

Barry,  this is a clear case where the school district has not only ignored the constitutional rights afforded to our client, but exhibited hostility toward his First Amendment rights prohibiting him from engaging in free speech and free exercise of religion.

In suspending Raymond, school officials contended that wearing a Rosary that included religious beads violated the school district’s dress code policy and asserted that the Rosary is considered a gang-related symbol.

In the complaint, we spell out very clearly that Raymond wears the Rosary to express his faith in God and honor the memory of a deceased uncle and a brother who died with that very same Rosary in his hand.  Raymond is not a member of any criminal gang and does not wear his Rosary to promote gang membership or violence.  In fact, Raymond has been wearing the Rosary since September 2009 without causing any disruption to the school environment whatsoever.

The lawsuit, which requests a trial by jury, urges the court to declare the disciplinary actions taken by school officials against Raymond unconstitutional, to declare the school’s dress code policy unconstitutional and to prevent it from being used to punish students like Raymond in the future. 

The suit also asserts that the school’s actions violated Raymond’s constitutional rights of speech and expression, free exercise of religion, and due process under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

We’re delighted that the court took swift action and granted our request for a TRO so Raymond can continue his education without removing his Rosary.  This is an important first step in the legal process in what we believe will ultimately result in the federal district court determining that the punishment inflicted by the school district by suspending Raymond for wearing a Rosary was not only wrong, but violated his constitutionally-protected rights of free speech and free exercise of religion.

The court set a hearing date for June 11th.  At that time, we will seek a Preliminary Injunction, permitting Raymond to continue to wear the Rosary in school until a final decision is reached in the case.

We’re very optimistic that the court will ultimately conclude that Raymond’s Rosary does not represent a constitutional crisis and that the 7th grader will be able to express his First Amendment rights without fear of censorship or being punished by a dress code policy that’s vague and unconstitutional.

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