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No Regrets

Christian student sues over commencement speech censure.

The 2007-2008 school year opened with another lawsuit alleging infringement of a Christian student's religious rights. Erica Corder, a Lewis Palmer (Colo.) High School graduate, sued the district school board, saying her principal unfairly disciplined her for mentioning her faith at last year's commencement ceremony.

Attorneys told CT that graduation-related lawsuits are rare. But free speech on public school campuses remains a hotly contested legal issue.

"Lawsuits over religious expression have been a fertile ground for lawyers," said Tom Hutton, senior staff attorney for the National School Boards Association.

Corder's suit asks for "reasonable" damages and a declaration that the school violated her constitutional rights. Now a sophomore at Wheaton College, Corder claims she was forced to apologize by e-mail before receiving her diploma, even though she hadn't violated any school policy. She hopes to clarify the law and to enable students from all faiths to speak out without fear of recrimination. ...

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