Moss v. Spartanburg Cty. Sch. Dist. 7, No. 11-1448 (4th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
South Carolina’s Spartanburg County School District Seven adopted a policy allowing public school students to receive two academic credits for off-campus religious instruction offered by private educators. The parents of two students at Spartanburg High School filed suit against the School District, alleging that the policy impermissibly endorses religion and entangles church and State in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The School District filed a motion for summary judgment, contending (1) that plaintiffs lacked standing because they were not injured by the policy, and (2) that the policy was constitutional in that it was neutrally stated and administered and that it had the secular purpose of accommodating students’ desire to receive religious instruction. Plaintiffs filed a cross-motion for summary judgment, arguing that that the purpose and primary effect of the School District’s policy was to promote Christianity. The district court rejected the school district’s standing argument but agreed with it on the merits and, accordingly, granted summary judgment to the School District. Upon review, the Fourth Circuit affirmed: "[the Court saw] no evidence that the program has had the effect of establishing religion or that it has entangled the School District in religion. As was the General Assembly and School District’s purpose, the program properly accommodates religion without establishing it, in accordance with the First Amendment."