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School Recruiting Dispute Before Supreme Court

Posted Apr 18, 2007 10:16 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Tennessee athletic association contends a letter encouraging 12 eighth graders to attend football practice was a recruiting violation that merited a $3,000 fine. The private school that sent the letter responds that the penalty is a violation of its right to free speech.

The dispute between the Brentwood Academy and the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association is now before the U.S. Supreme Court for a second time, the Washington Post reports. The 10-year battle has cost some $5 million in legal fees, the paper estimates.

In its first ruling in the case six years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association was a state actor subject to the First Amendment. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, now retired, provided the fifth vote for the majority.

Now the lawyer for the athletic association argues the school waived its First Amendment rights when it agreed join the group. She is also asking the court to reconsider its original decision in the case.

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