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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Mozert v. Hawkins County Board of Education case brief

Mozert v. Hawkins County Board of Education case brief summary
827 F.2d 1058 (1987)

CASE SYNOPSIS:
Defendants, a board of education, individual members of the board, and the Commissioner of Education of the State of Tennessee, sought review of the judgment of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, which granted relief to plaintiffs, a group of public school students and their parents, in their 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983 action against defendants claiming a violation of their First Amendment rights.

OVERVIEW:
-Plaintiffs, a group of public school students and their parents, brought an action under 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983, against defendants, a board of education, individual members of the board, and the Commissioner of Education of the State of Tennessee.
-Plaintiffs claimed that the required use of certain reading textbooks violated their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion.
-The district court's judgment granted injunctive relief, which ordered defendants to excuse objecting plaintiff students from participating in reading classes where the textbooks were used, and damages in favor of plaintiffs.
-Defendants sought review.

HOLDING:
On appeal, the court reversed the judgment and remanded.
-The court held that plaintiffs' right to free exercise of their religion had not been violated by defendants because plaintiffs had not shown that the reading textbooks had a coercive effect that operated against the practice of their religion.

ANALYSIS:
The court further held that plaintiffs had not shown that the reading textbooks had an actual burden on the profession or exercise of their religion.

OUTCOME: The court reversed the judgment, which granted relief to plaintiffs, a group of public school students and their parents, in their civil rights action against defendants, a board of education, individual members of the board, and the Commissioner of Education of the State of Tennessee, and remanded. The court held that the Free Exercise Clause did not afford plaintiffs a right to dictate the conduct of defendants' internal procedures.

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