FedSoc Blog

High Schooler Fights School Microchip Surveillance on Religious Grounds


by Publius
Posted December 10, 2012, 5:59 PM

According to the Wall Street Journal:

A federal judge in Texas next week will consider whether a San Antonio high school can force a student to take part in a program that equips students with microchips to track their attendance, despite the student's protests that the surveillance system violates her religious views.

John Jay Science and Engineering Academy started making students carry "smart ID" badges implanted with microchips this fall to ensure they are counted as present, since some state funding is tied to student attendance.

But Andrea Hernandez, a 15-year old sophomore at the magnet school for exceptional students, filed a federal-court petition on Nov. 30 seeking to be excluded from the program. She argues that as an evangelical Christian, she can't wear the badge because it is a sign of submission to a secular ruling authority, a form of idolatry she says is prohibited in the Bible's New Testament.

"What is happening at that school is what we read about in the Book of Revelation," Steve Hernandez, the student's father and a co-filer of the suit, said in an interview. "They are trying to force compelled speech upon her and she is standing up for what is right."

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia will hold a hearing Dec. 17 on whether the school, which has sought to transfer Ms. Hernandez to another school, should be temporarily barred from doing so until a full trial on the case's merits. The school has allowed Ms. Hernandez to remove the microchip, but has said that she still must visibly carry the badge, and she remains opposed.

Craig Wood, a San Antonio lawyer representing the school of about 750 students, said the badges serve a legitimate goal of helping the school increase funding tied to attendance. The badge program is also designed to increase safety by allowing the school to quickly assess whether people have a right to be on campus. The microchips are unable to track student activity off campus. . . .

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