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You could also get a felony charge for assaulting a police officer. Whether they frisk you or not, police may ask you a series of questions. If necessary, repeat your refusal. In fact, consenting to searches automatically makes them legal in the eyes of the law.

You always have the right to refuse searches. Refusing a search request is not an admission of guilt and does not give the officer the legal right to search or detain you. They occur because people get tricked or intimidated into consenting to search requests. If police search your car and find illegal items despite your refusal, your lawyer can file a motion to suppress — or throw out — the evidence in court. Unless the prosecution has other evidence, your charges would be dismissed.

If the officer lets you leave, do so immediately. If you are not free to go, you are being detained. The officer might have some reason to suspect you of a crime, and you may be arrested. I would like to see a lawyer. Never rely on police to inform you of your right to remain silent and see a lawyer. Repeat the magic words as necessary, but say no more. The founders of this country, who were themselves of different religious beliefs and backgrounds, thought that the best way to protect religious liberty in their new nation was to keep the government out of religion.

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That's why they created the First Amendment. In addition to guaranteeing free speech and a free press, the First Amendment says that the government " Both parts of this guarantee of religious liberty, the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause, apply to public schools since public schools are part of the government they don't apply to private and parochial schools. The Establishment Clause guarantees the separation of church and state by prohibiting the government from supporting or promoting religion in any way.

The government can't "establish" Christianity or any other religion as the official religion of the United States; it can't provide financial support for any religion, and it can't promote or endorse any religious beliefs or practices. The Free Exercise Clause means that you are free to worship as you choose, and that the government can't penalize you because of your religious beliefs.

In a series of decisions dating back to the early s, the courts have created the following constitutional standards that public schools are supposed to respect when it comes to religion:. Schools cannot promote religious beliefs or practices as part of the curriculum, but they can teach about the roles and influences of religion in history, literature and philosophy.

Students are free to pray on their own or otherwise express their religious beliefs in school, so long as they don't cause a disruption in class. Students can be excused from some school activities but not from academic courses if those activities conflict with their religious beliefs.

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For example, if you're a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses, who oppose saluting the flag, then you can't be forced to salute the flag. No, they can't. The Supreme Court has ruled that prayers, scriptural readings and even moments of silence are unconstitutional in public schools because they amount to government promotion of a religious belief or practice. Even if the school has described the prayer as "non- denominational," the government is still promoting religion in violation of the First Amendment.

Prayers at graduations used to be common, but in the Supreme Court ruled that the practice violates the Establishment Clause because it forces all graduating students, including non-believers, to participate in a government-sponsored religious exercise. This important ruling came in a case called Lee v.

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The Court explained that including a prayer in the graduation ceremony, whether the prayer was led by a minister, a priest or a rabbi, would give any student who objected "a reasonable perception that she is being forced by the State to pray in a manner her conscience will not allow. No, it isn't. Think about it: Letting students make the decision to have a student deliver a prayer doesn't make the graduation ceremony any less a school-sponsored event, does it? And while a majority of students may vote to pray in a certain way, the minority of students who hold different beliefs, or no religious beliefs at all, will feel excluded from their own graduation exercises.

The thing to understand is that where fundamental freedoms, like freedom of speech and freedom of religion, are concerned, the principle of "majority rule" doesn't apply. Those freedoms belong to each of us no matter what they cannot be voted away. The school itself could not sponsor such an alternative event, but student, parent or church groups could off of school grounds. Individual students have the right to pray whenever they want to, as long as they don't disrupt classroom instruction or other educational activities.

For example, a student can say grace before eating lunch or pray before taking an exam. If a school official has told you that you can't pray at all during the school day, then your free speech and free exercise rights are being violated and you should contact your local ACLU for help. Actually, there is. In instances where school officials aren't quite sure about a policy they have adopted or are considering, they can give it the "Lemon Test," which takes its name from a Supreme Court decision in a case called Lemon v.

A public school policy that fails any one of the following three parts of the Lemon Test is unconstitutional. The policy must have a non-religious purpose. Example: In , the U. Supreme Court struck down Alabama's moment-of-silence law because the whole point of the law was to encourage prayer, which is a clearly religious practice.

The policy must not have the effect of promoting or favoring any set of religious beliefs. For example, putting up a Christmas display in school that includes such religious symbols as a creche sends a message that the school prefers students whose religions celebrate Christmas over other students. The policy must not overly "entangle" the school with religion.

Suppose some graduating seniors and their parents decided to hold a religious baccalaureate service before graduation exercises at a local church, and the school principal took it upon him - or herself to review the content of the service ahead of time. That would "excessively entangle" the school with religious matters beyond what the constitution allows. It depends. A holiday event that includes making Christmas stockings, Easter eggs or valentines is probably okay because, while those activities used to be associated with a religious tradition, over the years they've become secular customs that young people of many different backgrounds enjoy.

But a Nativity pageant, which is full of religious meaning, or a school concert that featured only religious music would be unconstitutional.

The distribution of Bibles during the school day definitely violates the Establishment Clause. Even if teachers don't actually participate in handing out the Bibles, and even if the Bibles are not used as part of the school's educational program, the public school building or grounds are still being used to spread religious doctrine at a time students are required to be there. Yes, the Supreme Court has ruled that student-organized Bible clubs are allowed if several conditions are met. First, the activity must take place during non-school hours; Bible club or prayer meetings during regular school hours would violate the Establishment Clause.

Second, the school must make its facilities available to all student groups on an equal basis. If your Bible club is the only group allowed to have access to the school grounds, then that violates the Establishment Clause. Vice versa, if the school lets other student groups use the building for meetings and events but won't grant your Bible club the same privilege, then your right to free speech is being violated.

Third, school officials cannot have anything to do with organizing or running the Bible club. Demanding that your school respect constitutional principles takes courage and conviction. Rules and practices that don't respect the rights of everyone are often supported by a majority of students, teachers or parents, and going against the grain of any majority can be very difficult. Meet some students who had the courage to defend the Constitution by taking a stand against school practices they believed to be wrong.

In the summer of when I was 14, the school board in Cleveland, Ohio, where I live, invited me to attend a meeting to be recognized for the high scores I had gotten on a standardized test. I felt really proud of myself.

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I took a seat at the meeting, expecting that it would begin with something like a welcome. Instead, it began with a prayer. I was shocked.

Prayers at a school board meeting? I couldn't believe it. In the middle of the prayer, I found myself saying out loud, "What's going on here?


They aren't supposed to be doing this at a board of education meeting. We learned at school about the separation of church and state. We were taught that all people have the right to believe in their own way, as long as it doesn't harm others. Isn't it important that the school system respect the Constitution that it teaches us to respect?

How would it feel to be invited to a meeting, only to be offended by your host? The board ought to stop opening its meetings with prayers, I thought, and instead make the meetings free of barriers and open to all. Together with others who felt as I did, I asked the board to drop the prayer from its meetings, but they said they wouldn't. We then consulted with our local ACLU. With the ACLU's help, we filed a lawsuit against the school board, asking for an end to the practice.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer published a statement I wrote about the issue. Our case is still pending, but whatever the outcome I believe the school board ought to live by what it teaches. I'll never forget how uncomfortable I felt when a Baptist minister led us in a prayer at the ceremony. I had always felt that religion is important and has its place, but I didn't think a public school was that place.

My parents sent the school a letter that was never answered. Three years later, just before my own eighth grade graduation, my parents called the school to bring up the prayer issue again.

A teacher told them, "We got you a rabbi. But a rabbi wouldn't have made it any better: Prayer in public school was what we objected to.

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The school board told us that graduation prayer was a tradition. If we had a problem with the practice, they said, we could sue. And that's just what we did.