By Christy Barritt
Wisconsin Schools Push Back Against Legal Ruling
A Wisconsin school district plans to file an appeal with the United States Supreme Court concerning graduation.
Some parents in the Elmbrook School District filed a suit, taking issue with the district’s usage of a church for high school graduation ceremonies. They said it violated the Establishment Clause. Americans United for Separation of Church and State represented the parents in court.
In the original lawsuit, the district court judge ruled in favor of the school system. In July, the case went before the Seventh Circuit, where the court ruled against Elmbrook.
The school district is hoping the courts will rethink their decision and better determine if merely viewing a religious symbol in certain contexts rises to the level of constitutional crisis.
FTC Regulates Children’s Online Privacy
The Federal Trade Commission is updating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which was passed in 1998.
COPPA was developed to mandate that website and online service operators acquire verifiable parental consent before they use, collect, or disclose any personal information about children under 13.
Since COPPA came into existence, technology has changed dramatically. Now many children have smartphones, as well as use Facebook and other online websites.
The new rules will strengthen those already in place by protecting children online and ensuring that the information they provide there is private. The update will make sure that website and third-party data brokers, advertising networks, and downloadable software kits (plug-ins) get parental permission before gathering personal information from children.
Child Pornography Victims Can Receive Restitution
The 5th U.S. Circuit of Appeals ruled in October that victims of child pornography don’t have to show a direct link between the crime and their injuries in order to receive damage payments. This means that child pornography victims can recover money from people convicted of viewing their abuse.
The court ruled that two men owed restitution to a woman known as “Amy.” The men had been in possession of child pornography, which included pictures of Amy. As a child, Amy was sexually abused by an uncle who distributed photos of the incidents all over the Internet. Images of Amy were found in more than 3,200 child pornography cases over the last 14 years.
Amy has been awarded restitution amounts ranging from $100 to $3.5 million in more than 170 separate cases.
There could be a Supreme Court challenge to the ruling.
Year of the Bible Declaration Stands Strong
A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by an atheist group that challenged Pennsylvania lawmaker’s “Year of the Bible” declaration.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation filed suit against Pennsylvania after its House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution declaring 2012 the “Year of the Bible.”
A U.S. District Judge dismissed the case, saying that House members have “absolute legislative immunity” in passing such measures. But the judge also chastised lawmakers, calling the resolution a “waste of legislative resources” and questioned whether the resolution should have been passed at all. He also added that his decision “should not be viewed as judicial endorsement for this resolution” because “it most certainly is not.”
Christy Barritt is an award-winning author, freelance writer, and speaker living in Chesapeake, Virginia. She and her husband Scott have two sons.