by Ryan McKeen
The Enfield Board of Education has decided to appeal Judge Hall’s ruling barring the town from holding graduation at the First Cathedral. Courant.
The Board is going to lose this appeal. They’ll lose before the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and if they decide to seek cert, they’ll lose before the Supreme Court too.
Please let me indulge my inner Dr. Seuss for a second: the Board will lose here, the Board will lose there, the Board will lose everywhere.
The law is the law. The law says this is illegal. People are free to disagree with the law or seek to change it for that matter. I understand that the First Cathedral may be the most comfortable venue for graduation, however, first amendment rights trump comfort every day of the week.
Perhaps the board should read Tom Mooney’s Connecticut Educational Law Treatise, A Practical Guide to Connecticut School Law. In his treatise, Attorney Mooney does an excellent job explaining why prayer at graduation violates the establishment clause of the first amendment. If prayer in a secular location violates the first amendment, what in the world makes the board think that having a graduation in a church does not violate the first amendment?
It’s kind of like a doctor telling a patient not to eat candy because it’s bad for the patient’s heart. The patient heeds the advice of the doctor and cuts out peanut M&M’s from his diet. The patient then runs out and orders a Friendly’s 2090 calorie Cinnamon Swirl French Toast and exclaims it’s okay because he’s not eating “candy”. It was hard to write a paragraph that stupid but I think it’s on a stupidity par with Board’s decision to pursue an appeal.
I find it very telling that the Board is not being represented by their usual counsel in this appeal. The Board can point to cost as the issue but I’m willing to bet that their paid lawyers actually told them that this was illegal.
I’m also willing to bet that the Board did what clients often do when they don’t like the advice they’re given…. find a lawyer who will tell them what they want to hear.
The Board would be better served if it spent less time listening to the likes of Glenn Beck and more time reading Judge Hall’s opinion. Her opinion is legally correct. Like it or not, Judge Hall properly applied the law to the facts.
There is nothing surprising or remotely legally controversial about Judge Hall’s opinion. Nothing at all.
The Board’s insistence to carry on this foolish fight is going to cost the town. One of the reasons the ACLU is entitled to attorneys fees is to deter towns from making exactly these kinds of decisions.
I hope the board members who voted to carry on this appeal are willing to indemnify the town for the cost of their foolishness. Make no mistake about it, this could cost the taxpayers of Enfield several hundred thousand dollars before this case is settled.
Last night the Board voted to incur a significant and certain liability at the expense of the taxpayers. And for what?
Indemnification may force some members of the board to file bankruptcy. What do they have to lose? They’re already intellectually bankrupt.