Grad to Take Christian Hymn Case to High Court

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A Washington State high school graduate says she will ask the U.S. Supreme Court if her free speech rights were violated, because her request to play a Christian hymn at her high school graduation was denied.

Kathryn Nuree was part of a wind ensemble that asked to play "Ave Maria" without lyrics at the Henry Jackson High School commencement in Everett, Wash., in June of 2006. The instrumental music was based on a choral piece written by German composer Franz Biebl for a firefighters' chorus in 1964.

When school officials said no -- Nuree challenged them in court, claiming their the ban on the piece violated her First Amendment right of free speech. A federal judge later ruled that the school did not violate Nuree's constitutional rights.

On Tuesday, two of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judges in San Francisco, Calif., upheld the decision, saying officials acted reasonably when they decided the musical version of the well-known Roman Catholic prayer would violate the constitutional ban on government establishment of religion.

The other judge wrote that the ruling would cause school officials "to chill -- or even kill -- musical and artistic presentations by their students."

The majority said it was not banning all religious music at high school performances, but said that graduations have an essentially "captive audience" and a limited time period that may not allow for a balance of religious and non-religious music.

However, Nuree's attorneys says she will appeal to the Supreme Court.

Click here to read the court's written decision.

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