The topic of this legal essay is Good News Club v. Milford Central School, 533 U.S. 98 (2001).
Facts. The facts of the case were that Milford Central School in New York State made available to residents of its school district its facilities for various after school community purposes such as educational instruction and other social, civic, recreational and other uses. Pursuant to its policy, it denied use of its building to Good News Club, a private Christian organization which wanted to use it "to sing songs, hear Bible lessons, memorize scripture, and pray," uses which the School deemed to be religious (Good News).
Proceedings Below. The Club sued the School in Federal District Court which granted the School summary judgment on the grounds that its actions did not amount to viewpoint discrimination in violation of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. The Second Circuit affirmed. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in order to resolve a conflict in the lower circuit courts of appeal concerning whether speech can be excluded from a limited public forum on the basis of the religious nature of the speech on either free speech or Establishment Clause grounds.
Holding of the Supreme Court. By a six to three majority, the Court reversed the holdings below on the grounds that the actions of the School amounted to viewpoint discrimination by the State in violation of the Club's free speech rights but did not constitute a violation of the Establishment Clause.
Nature of the Free Speech Issue. In Perry Educators' Ass'n v. Perry Local Educators' Ass'n, 460 U.S. 37 (1983), the Court indicated that the extent of free speech rights depended on the nature of the forum, whether what was involved was a traditional public forum, a limited public forum, or a nonpublic forum. In a limited public forum, the government may limit the right of private parties to have access to and to speak on public property. Since the School's p...