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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 2, 1995


On Friday, September 29, 1995, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a public high school receiving federal funds could not prohibit a student religious club from meeting on school premises during its lunch period, when other extracurricular student clubs are permitted to meet.

The President is pleased by the Court's decision, which reaffirms the protections accorded to student religious speech. The Justice Department filed a friend-of-the-Court brief in the case, supporting the position that the student religious group should be permitted to meet during the lunch period.

The Ninth Circuit's decision affirms a key principle in the guidance on religious expression in schools recently distributed by Secretary Riley to each of the nation's 16,000 public school districts. This past summer, the President directed Secretary Riley to distribute this guidance to explain the extent to which student religious expression is permitted.

The Ninth Circuit's decision, in the case Ceniceros v. Board of Trustees of the San Diego Unified School District, was based on the Equal Access Act, a federal statute designed to prohibit discrimination against religious expression in our public schools.