DiLoreto v. Downey Unified School District: Schools Have a Right to Not Accept Religious Advertising Signs

DiLoreto v. Downey Unified School District: Schools Have a Right to Not Accept Religious Advertising Signs

District Judge Susan Illston

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Decided: DiLoreto v. Downey Unified School District — The Supreme Court lets stand without comment a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that a school district was within its rights to discontinue a program of paid advertising signs on school grounds rather than accept a sign promoting the Ten Commandments.

District Judge Susan Illston writes in the majority opinion:

"The District essentially offers two reasons for excluding the subject of religion from the forum. The District's first concern was disruption. The District feared controversy and expensive litigation that might arise from community members seeking to remove the sign or from religious or political statements that others might wish to post. The District's second concern was the potential Establishment Clause violation presented by posting the Ten Commandments in a public high school.

The District's concerns regarding disruption and potential controversy are legitimate reasons for restricting the content of the ads, given the purpose of the forum and the surrounding circumstances of the public secondary school. ...

Mr. DiLoreto's ad was not a statement addressing otherwise-permissible subjects from a religious perspective; it sets forth the Ten Commandments, which are 'undeniably a sacred text in the Jewish and Christian faiths,' and 'concern[ ] the religious duties of believers.'...

We conclude that the District's decision not to post Mr. DiLoreto's sign was pursuant to a permissible, content-based limitation on the forum, and not viewpoint discrimination."

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