Judge's Ruling Forbids School-Sponsored Baccalaureate Services

May 23, 2001

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

On May 23, 2001, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that "in a ruling yesterday afternoon from his courtroom in Johnstown [Pennsylvania], U.S. District Chief Judge D. Brooks Smith told the 1,000-student school district that it couldn't hold the May 31 baccalaureate service in the school auditorium, sponsor the service or conduct rehearsals for it. Doing otherwise would be a First Amendment violation, Smith ruled...Berlin Brothersvalley was [thus] ushered out of the dwindling minority of school districts still conducting baccalaureate services." The ruling is unpopular in the town.