Cheerleaders painting banners before a game in Kountze, TX. (AP)
The Texas Supreme Court has ruled 8-0 infavor of a group of cheerleaders who paint Biblical verses and Christian messages on banners used before football games.
In 2012, after a group of high school cheerleaders from Kountze, TX painted the messages - one read "I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me" - on the run-through banners, the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint with Kountze Independent School District (KISD). In response, the school district banned the cheerleaders' signs.
The school district later reversed their decision, leading to an appeals court declaring the lawsuit moot - or not worth deciding, as the issue seemed to have been resolved.
The cheerleaders' attorneys were not satisfied. “I don’t think it provides any protection for the religious liberties of Kountze cheerleaders in the future,” said Hiram Sasser, a lead attorney for the Liberty Institute, a Plano-based nonprofit law firm that represents the cheerleaders.
Attorneys asked the Texas Supreme Court to allow them to reinstate the case. On January 29 the Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of the cheerleaders: “In fact, while the District has indicated it does not have any current ‘intent’ or ‘plan’ to reinstate that prohibition, the District has never expressed the position that it could not, and unconditionally would not, reinstate it,” the court’s opinion reads.
Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO of Liberty Institute, said, "This is an 8-0 victory for the free speech and religious liberty rights of all Texas students. We are delighted that the court considered this case so straightforward that it did not even require oral argument. In light of today's Supreme Court ruling, we hope the Court of Appeals will resolve this case permanently in the cheerleaders' favor."
The case now returns to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth District in Beaumont, Texas.