You remember the case: Mormon acting student at the University of Utah files suit because she felt that her free speech and free exercise rights were violated by her acting teachers’ requirement that she say f–k and g—–m in classroom performances. The federal district court tossed the suit, but the student just won her appeal, keeping the case alive (caveat clicker: the court’s opinion contains profanities) .
Here’s a quick summary for non-lawyers:
On her free speech claim, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that school officials may compel a student to use profanities as long as such compulsion is “reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns.” The Court held, however, that the school officials may have offered their pedagogical reasons merely as a pretext for discriminating against the student because she was Mormon. Whether the reasons were pretextual or not, the Court said, must be resolved by a trial.
On her free exercise claim, the Court similarly held that the student presented enough evidence to warrant a trial on the issue of whether or not the school officials’ requirement that she use profanity was a “neutral rule of general applicability.”
Thus, the case goes back to the district court, where the school officials will attempt to prove that they weren’t discriminating against the student based on her religion.