A Pennsylvania school district has been ordered by a Trump-appointed judge to allow an After School Satan Club to convene on school premises.
The ruling was made on Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, following a suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of The Satanic Temple.
The school district had previously prohibited the club from meeting in its facilities, arguing that permission slips did not make it clear that the club was not district-sponsored.
However, the judge ruled that the district had violated the First Amendment by prohibiting the club, and must now allow it to meet on three previously agreed-upon dates during the school year.
The After School Satan Club is sponsored by The Satanic Temple, a non-theistic religious organization that advocates for secularism and social justice. Saucon Valley School District is a midsized suburban public school district located in Northampton County, Pennsylvania in the Lehigh Valley region of eastern Pennsylvania, about 30 miles west of Hackettstown, New Jersey.
The ruling has been hailed as a victory for free speech and religious freedom by the ACLU.
This is not the first time that the After School Satan Club has been allowed to meet in a school district. Earlier this year, a similar controversy made headlines in Virginia, where the club was also allowed to convene.
Judge John M. Gallagher, who issued the ruling, was appointed by President Donald Trump in 2019 to serve as a United States district judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
“When confronted with a challenge to free speech, the government’s first instinct must be to forward expression rather than quash it. Particularly when the content is controversial or inconvenient. Nothing less is consistent with the expressed purpose of American government to secure the core, innate rights of its people,” wrote Gallagher in the ruling.
The ruling serves as a reminder of the importance of the First Amendment in protecting freedom of speech and religion, even in controversial or inconvenient circumstances.
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