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School Blocks Wind Ensemble from Playing ‘Ave Maria’ at Graduation for Church/State Fears
The Rutherford Institute ^ | 6/27/06

Posted on 07/01/2006 11:06:30 AM PDT by dukeman

SEATTLE, Wash.—Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute have filed a First Amendment lawsuit in defense of the rights of a member of a high school wind ensemble to perform an instrumental arrangement of “Ave Maria” at the school’s graduation ceremony.

The case centers on a school official’s refusal to allow the senior high woodwind ensemble to perform their choice of an instrumental arrangement of German composer Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria” at the school’s graduation ceremonies. In the complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, Wash., Institute attorneys charge that the school superintendent’s unfounded concerns about the religious nature of the piece and subsequent move to veto the ensemble’s decision to perform the piece at their graduation ceremony violated the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of the senior members of the woodwind ensemble.

“This case is a perfect example of the ridiculous extremes to which school officials will go in their efforts to sanitize our nation’s public schools of anything even remotely related to Christianity,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “Schools cannot ban performances and restrict students’ right to free expression whenever those forms of expression might have some minimal connection to religion. This is a case of clear and open hostility towards religion—Christianity, in particular.”

Traditionally, school officials at Henry M. Jackson High School in Snohomish County, Wash., have allowed the senior members of the high school’s top performing instrumental group, the woodwind ensemble, to choose a song from their repertoire to perform as a farewell during graduation ceremonies. Having performed Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria” at a public concert in 2004, which was attended by students, parents, faculty and members of the public, the wind ensemble unanimously chose to perform it again at their graduation ceremony on June 17, 2006, because they felt its aesthetic beauty and peacefulness would be appropriate for the tone of the ceremony.

The senior members proposed to perform Biebl’s piece instrumentally; no lyrics or words would be sung or said, nor did the senior members intend that any lyrics would be printed in ceremony programs or otherwise distributed to members of the audience. However, despite the absence of lyrics, Dr. Carol Whitehead, superintendent of Everett School District No. 2, refused to allow the ensemble to perform “Ave Maria” at their graduation ceremony because she believed the piece to be religious in nature.

In response, attorneys for The Rutherford Institute filed a First Amendment lawsuit against the superintendent on behalf of graduating senior Kathryn Nurre, a saxophonist with the wind ensemble and one of the 17 senior high students who selected “Ave Maria” for the graduation ceremony. As Institute attorneys pointed out in their lawsuit, the superintendent’s actions violated the students’ rights to freedom of speech, to be free from hostility to religion and to equal protection under the law.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: antitheist; churchandstate; firstamendment; godhaters; moralabsolutes

1 posted on 07/01/2006 11:06:34 AM PDT by dukeman
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To: dukeman

This crap has got to be stopped.


2 posted on 07/01/2006 11:08:40 AM PDT by Mad_Tom_Rackham (Liberalism's main product is Death.)
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To: dukeman
The godless liberals strike again... you can't erase God from Western culture because Western culture is inconceivable without His presence. Its the warf and woof of who we are. But try explaing that to people ignorant of history. Its all around us.

(The Palestinian terrorist regime is the crisis and Israel's fist is the answer.)

3 posted on 07/01/2006 11:09:12 AM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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To: dukeman

It's really sad that everything has to be litigated in court because people can't behave reasonably and make sound judgement decisions.


4 posted on 07/01/2006 11:10:31 AM PDT by Excuse_My_Bellicosity ("Sharpei diem - Seize the wrinkled dog.")
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To: dukeman
I'm not a Christian and even I think this is ridiculous!
5 posted on 07/01/2006 11:15:48 AM PDT by proudofthesouth (Mao said that power comes at the point of a rifle; I say FREEDOM does.)
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To: dukeman

The Ave Maria is a beautiful piece of music. What a shame to deprive anyone of enjoying it.


6 posted on 07/01/2006 11:16:38 AM PDT by cyborg (then comes baby in the baby carriage)
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To: dukeman

I guess Handel, Bach, Beethoven and Mozart would be out too.


7 posted on 07/01/2006 11:19:46 AM PDT by Mike Darancette (Make them go home!!)
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To: dukeman

Kids can't play "Ave Maria" because it might offend some thin-skinned atheist, but the New York TImes can publish the Army's battleplans because the public has the "right to know!"


8 posted on 07/01/2006 11:20:52 AM PDT by Holden Magroin
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To: Excuse_My_Bellicosity
"It's really sad that everything has to be litigated in court because people can't behave reasonably and make sound judgement decisions."

Unless you are a trial lawyer. Big donors to the DNC.

9 posted on 07/01/2006 11:21:17 AM PDT by Jumpmaster (Teddy is all wet.)
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To: Mad_Tom_Rackham

We have to SUE for freedom of speech????

Put the damn A C L U population in jail.


10 posted on 07/01/2006 11:23:21 AM PDT by stephenjohnbanker (If you got Sowell, you got Soul !)
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To: Holden Magroin

Pretzel Logic


11 posted on 07/01/2006 11:23:58 AM PDT by stephenjohnbanker (If you got Sowell, you got Soul !)
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To: dukeman
The scariest part about all this is that these people are in charge of educating our children. If I had children they would be home schooled.
12 posted on 07/01/2006 11:25:03 AM PDT by CremeSaver
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To: dukeman

cwhitehead@everett.wednet.edu


13 posted on 07/01/2006 11:25:09 AM PDT by ncountylee (Dead terrorists smell like victory)
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To: Mad_Tom_Rackham

As dangerous as some fear I think we need a Constitutional Convention to further elaborate and define the meaning of the Establishment Clause(merely no state church)NOT a separation of religion and state; Citizenship, the conditions of its acquisition and surrender; elimination of the one man one vote concept-which is merely 19th century British marxism. By this I mean the re-granting of the power to the States to have their state senate based upon one senator per county. The setting forth of voting requirements, ie minimum age, a prospective voter must reside in a state continuously for six months and in the county for ninety days, every time a person moves he must re-register, all registration must be in person and before an officer authorized to administer oaths; students must return to their parents home in order to vote


14 posted on 07/01/2006 11:25:59 AM PDT by AEMILIUS PAULUS (It is a shame that when these people give a riot)
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To: dukeman

Lord have mercy...


15 posted on 07/01/2006 11:45:59 AM PDT by AliVeritas ("One for all , all for kicking *ss and taking names" ...Scratch taking names.)
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To: dukeman

the English version has the word 'prayer' in it so it must be stopped! oh, the humanity!!!


Ave maria
Maiden mild!
Oh, listen to a maiden’s prayer
For thou canst hear amid the wild
’tis thou, ’tis thou canst save amid dispair
We slumber safely till the morrow
Though we’ve by man outcast reviled
Oh, maiden, see a maiden’s sorrow
Oh, mother, hear a suppliant child!
Ave maria
Ave maria, gratia plena
Maria, gratia plena
Maria, gratia plena
Ave, ave dominus
Dominus tecum
The murky cavern’s air so heavy
Shall breathe of balm if thou hast smiled
Oh, maiden, hear a maiden pleadin’
Oh, mother, hear a suppliant child
Ave maria
Ave maria


16 posted on 07/01/2006 11:50:06 AM PDT by Rakkasan1 ((Illegal immigrants are just undocumented friends you haven't met yet!))
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I wonder if they would also ban Korn's "Good God" because of the title?
Or if the absolutely foul lyrics would make up for any possible thought of 'establishing Christianity'.

Or how about Edwin Starr's "WAR"? It is a classic, iconic song for the left, yet "Good God" frequently appears in the lyrics. We wouldn't want to confuse the little darlings, would we?

These bubbleheaded school administrators
(as well as the Anti Christian Lawyers Union {even though they don't appear to be involved in this case})
will all receive their just awards eventually. Unfortunately, I don't get to see them suffer for it now.

17 posted on 07/01/2006 11:56:47 AM PDT by LegendHasIt
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To: dukeman
Whoever filed the lawsuit can have their grad ceremony at city hall, away from God and civilized society!

If they dont like it they dont have to be there, or here!

18 posted on 07/01/2006 11:59:30 AM PDT by rawcatslyentist (I'd rather be carrying a shotgun with Dick, than riding shotgun with a Kennedyl!)
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To: wagglebee

The ACLU at it again. Good for the Rutherford Institute. I hope this goes to the SCOTUS and the good guys win.


19 posted on 07/01/2006 12:02:48 PM PDT by little jeremiah
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To: dukeman

Have we lost ALL REASON?


20 posted on 07/01/2006 12:06:56 PM PDT by Panzerlied ("We shall never surrender!")
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To: Panzerlied
Have we lost ALL REASON?

We (conservatives) have not. But liberals never had it, which is why we now suffer through stories like this, which are becoming more and more common.

I find it astonishing how the Establishment Clause has been so grossly misinterpreted over the years, not only by the general public (who think it includes the phrase 'separation of church and state') but by the Supreme Court, who have made application of it a procedure that Rube Goldberg would shake his head at in amazement.

And Sandra Day O'Connor was a big offender in that area...glad to see her step down!
21 posted on 07/01/2006 12:19:42 PM PDT by LostInBayport (Massachusetts liberals refuse to admit we exist...we are the 37% of MA voters who voted for GWB)
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To: LostInBayport

I wonder how many in the crowd would even know the name of this piece, much less its lyrics.


22 posted on 07/01/2006 12:42:51 PM PDT by gov_bean_ counter (There are only a few absolute truths in life, everything else is just an opinion.)
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To: dukeman

Are they banning test so kids won't pray in school?


23 posted on 07/01/2006 12:47:25 PM PDT by art_rocks
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To: dukeman

The school superintendent's job description does not contain any clauses that require him to determine what is or is not religious in nature. After all, that sort of thing is prohibited by the Constitution.


24 posted on 07/01/2006 1:21:39 PM PDT by muawiyah (-)
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To: dukeman

In a related story, Dr. Carol Whitehead, superintendent of Everett School District No. 2, refused to accept money from city, state, federal or private sources because she believed "In God We Trust" to be religious in nature.


25 posted on 07/01/2006 1:24:43 PM PDT by F-117A (They say there is no such thing as an ex-Marine,.Murtha disproves that!!!)
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To: Mad_Tom_Rackham
"This crap has got to be stopped."

Ah come on man. It is obvious that the playing of an instrumental arrangement of “Ave Maria” at the school’s graduation ceremony is the State establishment of a church. And that, as we all know, is unconstitutional.
26 posted on 07/01/2006 8:28:31 PM PDT by Texas_Jarhead
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To: dukeman
This case and many like it point to much confusion on the law and the constitition. Both sides of the popular left and right usually get it wrong.

This was a school function. It was not a classroom being used by a religious community group or student prayer club. Free speech in this setting is very well protected by established case law. And it is well determined that the Establishment Clause does not prohibit schools from using the facility this way.

But at a graduation, as a school function, the rights narrow slightly. The superintendent is under no obligation to ban any speech simply because it has religious content. The law is very clear on that. So if Hindu or Buddist or Muslims want to speak in praise of their gods, the Christians in the room cannot demand the superintendent to stop them.

But being obligated to ban something is different than not being able to ban something and here the law is a little murkier.

First, just as a superintendent can ban speech that contains lewd language or obscenities, he can also ban speech that calls for "Death to the infidels", "To Repent Now!", "Ms Whitehouse is a Whore!", or anything that is disruptive or disturbing the the purpose and intent of the school function. In short, the law generally supports letting the superintendent run the school as he wishes to keep good order and make learning happen.

So the issue the courts will be looking at is if this song, even without lyrics, would offend people in the gathering so much that from a largely PRACTICAL matter (not constitutional matter) the intent and purpose of the event would be diminished. The fact that the students have traditionally picked the music and that the song was played at another school event will have bearing, but are not the determining factor.
27 posted on 07/17/2006 12:30:44 PM PDT by Helinda
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To: dukeman
Was it Mozart who dedicated all his works "to the Glory of G-d?" Will he have to be bannned next?

Shalom.

28 posted on 07/17/2006 12:35:28 PM PDT by ArGee (The Ring must not be allowed to fall into Hillary's hands!)
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