Yesterday, U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that New York City public schools can prohibit religious worship services from its premises. The New York Law Journal reports, "Ruling for the fourth time in a decade on a lawsuit brought by a Christian church in the Bronx, the majority concluded that the rule does not constitute viewpoint discrimination under the First Amendment because it 'does not exclude expressions of religious points of view or of religious devotion, but excludes for valid non-discriminatory reasons only a type of activity—the conduct of worship services.'"

Dozens of schools offer their facilities to churches to hold services during the off-hours. The Daily News quoted the majority's opinion, "It is reasonable for the Board (of Education) to fear ... allowing schools to be converted into churches. The Board's concern that it would be substantially subsidizing churches if it opened schools for religious worship services is reasonable."

The NY Times has more on the history of this lawsuit:

The decision is the latest twist in a legal battle that dates to 1995, when an evangelical Christian church, the Bronx Household of Faith, sued, contending the city was violating the First Amendment in denying it access to a school, when it allowed other community groups to have space for their activities.

Initially, the challenge was unsuccessful, but in 2002, after the United States Supreme Court held that it was unconstitutional to exclude a student Bible study group from an upstate New York school building, a judge ruled that New York City had to provide religious groups with the same access as other community groups.

The judge, Loretta A. Preska of Federal District Court, later made her order permanent. The city’s Law Department said Thursday that more than 60 “congregations” obtained permits to use public schools for regular worship services in the 2008-9 school year. The Bronx Household of Faith has been using Public School 15.

The Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing Bronx Household of Faith, says it will appeal, "Religious groups, including churches, shouldn’t be discriminated against simply because they want to rent a public building just like other groups can. The idea that people of faith may be singled out for discrimination is flagrantly contrary to the U.S. Constitution. The 2nd Circuit greatly erred by not putting an end to the board’s continued defiance of the First Amendment."