Public schools can't bar student religious clubs from meeting during student-activity periods held during the school day, a three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on July 15. The decision reversed a lower-court ruling.
The case involved high-school senior Melissa Donovan and her "FISH" Bible club. Officials in the Punxsutawney school district in western Pennsylvania had required the club to meet before school hours rather than during the school-wide free activity period first thing each morning, when other nonacademic clubs met. This was "impermissible viewpoint discrimination," a violation of the 1984 federal Equal Access Act, according to the appeals court decision.