Texas Supreme Court May Hear Case of Cheerleaders Who Display Bible Verses on School Game Banners

May 8, 2013: Kountze High School cheerleaders, from left, Savannah Short, Macy Matthews, Kieara Moffett and Rebekah Richardson speak to reporters in Beaumont, Texas. AP/THE BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE
May 8, 2013: Kountze High School cheerleaders, from left, Savannah Short, Macy Matthews, Kieara Moffett and Rebekah Richardson speak to reporters in Beaumont, Texas. AP/THE BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE

Cheerleaders at a local high school in Kountze, Texas, are allowed to display Bible verses on banners at school football games, an appeals court ruled Thursday. The attorney for the cheerleaders, however, says he’s contemplating appealing this most recent decision, arguing that it does not address the free speech rights of his clients and therefore clarify the issue for future similar situation.

Hiram Sasser, attorneys for parents and cheerleaders from the Kountze School District, told The Associated Press that Thursday’s ruling does not necessarily protect students’ right to free speech and religious freedom in the future.

“I don’t think it provides any protection for the religious liberties of Kountze cheerleaders in the future,” Sasser, a lead attorney for the Liberty Institute, said of the ruling, adding that he is contemplating an appeal that could end up at the Texas Supreme Court.

The 9th Circuit Appeals Court for Beaumont said in its opinion that because the Kountze School District had changed its policy to allow cheerleaders to display their biblical messages on their banners, the appeals lawsuit and a lower court ruling were moot.

The district “has essentially repealed the ban and modified its policy in such a way to allow the religiously-themed messages on the banners. Accordingly, we conclude, there is no reasonable expectation that the student cheerleaders will suffer the same alleged wrong,” the three-person appeals panel wrote in their opinion.

The legal challenges began in 2012 when the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a threatening letter to the school district, demanding it cease allowing its high school cheerleaders from displaying the religious-themed banners, which often included inspirational biblical quotes and were used as “run-through” banners at the beginning of football games.

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SOURCE: The Christian Post
Katherine Weber

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