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Mar 13, 2013 12:36 PM by Joe Bevans

Protest law disrupts party invitations

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A federal appeals court has ruled that a Pennsylvania fifth-grader may distribute invitations to a church Christmas party at her public school because it won't cause a "substantial disruption." The panel upheld a lower court's preliminary decision allowing the student to take the invitations into her school based on a free speech standard established in a Vietnam-era Supreme Court case involving a high school anti-war protest. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals noted the law is still evolving on how the case should affect elementary schools. The three-judge panel said schools can exert more control over younger students, given their age and maturity level. The court has previously said a preschooler could not distribute pencils promoting a Christian message to classmates.

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