As part of the pilot program, roughly 4,200 students at Jay High School and Jones Middle School are being required to wear "SmartID" card badges embedded with an RFID tracking chip which will make it possible for school officials to track students’ whereabouts on campus at all times. School officials hope that by expanding the program to the district's 112 schools, they can secure up to $1.7 million in funding from the state government. (Source: https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/on_the_front_lines/dismissing_religious_belief_concerns_federal_court_rules_in_favor_of_texas)
The Hernandez family argued that the RFID badges violated their daughter's privacy rights and referred to them as the "Mark of the Beast", a reference to a warning in the Book of Revelations.
The primary defense was not to challenge the obvious privacy issues involved with the badges, but to seek a religious exemption. The judge ruled that the badge is "not grounded in her religious beliefs" and is a "secular choice rather than a religious concern."
"The Supreme Court has made clear that government officials may not scrutinize or question the validity of an individual’s religious beliefs," said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, in a statement.
"By declaring Andrea Hernandez's objections to be a secular choice and not grounded in her religious beliefs, the district court is placing itself as an arbiter of what is and is not religious. This is simply not permissible under our constitutional scheme, and we plan to appeal this immediately," he added.
The court originally agreed to block the suspension to hear the case, but would not extend that request for the appeal process.
"In coming to Andrea's defense, Rutherford attorneys have alleged that the school's attempts to penalize, discriminate and retaliate against Andrea violate her rights under Texas' Religious Freedom Act and the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution," said Rutherford's lawyers.