Candy Cane Case Questions Kids' Religious Rights

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The 8-year-old Candy Cane Case that questions whether elementary students have First Amendment rights reached the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday.

Seventeen judges heard arguments in the Morgan v. Plano Independent School District, a lawsuit that stems from several freedom of religion cases.

The saga began in 2003, when then 8-year-old Jonathan Morgan was banned from handing out candy canes to his classmates because a poem about Jesus was attached to the package.

"The Plano ISD policy does not allow individual dissemination of any information or media by students in the classroom," school district officials said in a statement.

But lawyers with the Liberty Institute are seeking to prove the district only enforces their policy when Christian media is disseminated.

"It's the same thing as this kid handing a copy of 'Moby Dick' to another kid in the hallway. According to their policy, that would be in violation," a Liberty Institute attorney said.  "I highly doubt they're enforcing their policy against anything other than religious speech."

Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of the Liberty Institute, said parents across the U.S. should be very "concerned" about the school district's actions.

"If this court rules that elementary students have no First Amendment rights, then neither students nor their parents will have any recourse against religious discrimination, (which has) occurred in this case," Shackelford said.

"It would be a massive shift of power away from citizens and families to the government," he said.

The school district also threatened a young girl for handing out tickets after school to a religious play and banned students from writing "Merry Christmas" on holiday cards to U.S. troops serving overseas.

The Liberty Institute is arguing the case for the students with the help of Paul Clement and Kenneth Starr, two former U.S. solicitors general.

Meanwhile, young Morgan said he hopes to be able to hand out his candy canes next Christmas.

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