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Littlefield v. Forney Independent School District, 268 F.3d 275 (5th Cir. 2001)


A Texas school district adopted a mandatory uniform policy. The policy contained an opt-out provision for those with sincere religious or philosophical objections to the policy. A group of students and parents contended that the mandatory policy violated their First Amendment free-expression rights and their free-exercise of religion rights. The plaintiffs also alleged that the opt-out procedures violated the Establishment Clause by favoring certain religions over others.


Whether a public school district's mandatory uniform policy violates the First Amendment.


In a 3-0 panel decision, the Fifth Circuit ruled that the school's uniform policy was constitutional.


The school district passed the mandatory uniform policy "to improve student performance, instill self-confidence, foster self-esteem, increase attendance, decrease disciplinary referrals, and lower drop-out rates." The students have failed to show that the policy was intended to suppress free-expression. The free-exercise clause claim fails because the policy's opt-out provision is a neutral law that does not target anyone's religious beliefs. The appeals court also summarily rejected the Establishment Clause claim because there was no endorsement of religion implied by the policy and no coercion of students to participate in religion.


"The record demonstrates that the Uniform Policy was adopted for other legitimate reasons unrelated to the suppression of student expression." (Judge Carolyn King)

Last updated: Friday, November 16, 2018 | 20:16:34