By Thaddeus M. Baklinski
WASHINGTON, November 17, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The United States Supreme Court has refused to hear the case of a high school valedictorian whose microphone was turned off by school officials after she began speaking about the part her Christian beliefs played in her success in life.
Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute asked the Supreme Court to hear the case of Brittany McComb, charging that school officials violated McComb's free speech rights and engaged in viewpoint discrimination when they censored her speech because of its Christian content.
The Rutherford Institute, a conservative legal group, had agreed to represent the Nevada valedictorian in a lawsuit against her school for violating her right to freedom of speech and religious expression.
McComb filed a First Amendment lawsuit against Foothill High School officials in July 2006. In June 2007, the US District Court for Nevada rejected the school district's attempt to have the case dismissed and affirmed that the lawsuit raised substantial claims of infringement of McComb's right of free speech. School officials subsequently appealed to the Court of Appeals, which dismissed the case.
The case was then appealed to the Supreme Court, which issued the order denying the petition without additional explanation.
McComb is a Christian and a top student, who graduated with a 4.7 grade point average from Foothill High in Henderson, Nevada. She knew that her valedictorian address would probably be cut short, but was determined to go ahead and mention her faith anyway.
School officials had previously edited her speech to remove Biblical references and one mention of the name of Jesus Christ, warning her she would be interrupted if she deviated from the approved text.
“I went through four years of school at Foothill and they taught me logic and they taught me freedom of speech,” McComb stated. “God's the biggest part of my life. Just like other valedictorians thank their parents, I wanted to thank my lord and savior.”
The 400 plus graduates and guests who had gathered at a Las Vegas casino for the commencement ceremony, booed and jeered after McComb's speech was cut short, chanting “Let her speak!”
“This is a sad day for the cause of freedom,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, in a press release following the Supreme Court's decision. “When the Supreme Court cannot clear their calendar to hear a case of this magnitude, then our freedoms are in jeopardy. Such censorship and discrimination should not be permitted in America.”
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