At least once a year, it seems, the ACLU supports a case that defies the expectations of its tougher critics. A few months ago, for instance, the group defended Rush Limbaugh's right to keep his medical records private. Now the ACLU has prevailed in a case that will challenge its holiday image as the Grinch. Peggy Walsh-Sarnecki, education writer for the Detroit Free Press, led her report with the man-bites-dog angle of the ACLU's defending a valedictorian whose biblical citation disappeared from a school yearbook.
Abby Moler, the 2001 valedictorian of Stevenson High School in Sterling Heights, had tried to quote from Jeremiah 29:11: "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"
Walsh-Sarnecki reports on the ACLU's flat-footed explanation:
"The Supreme Court has said there can be school oversight in official publications, but the schools still have to honor the constitutional rights of their students," said Kary Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan.
. . . "There are reasonable limits the schools can place, and potential for disruption is one reason a school might be able to limit certain speech," Moss said.
"But that wasn't what happened here. This was a student's personal views, which happened to involve religious expressions."
But Walsh-Sarnecki broke the story, and has single-handedly gladdened many hearts.