Texas Supreme Court Sides with Cheerleaders in Bible Verse Battle
The Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of a group of high school cheerleaders under attack from an atheist group because they made banners with Bible verses.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint with the Kountze Independent School District in 2012 after the cheerleaders wrote Bible verses on their banners. The school responded by banning the practice. The cheerleaders, however, took the case to court and years later finally won a unanimous 8-0 victory from the Texas Supreme Court Friday.
“This is an 8-0 victory for the free speech and religious liberty rights of all Texas students,” Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of Liberty Institute, a Christian legal group that co-represented the cheerleaders, said in a statement. “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 school district has since lifted the ban on the cheerleaders, even though it could have been reinstated. The case sets precedent going forward.
“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.
The court was so sure of its decision, it didn’t not even hear oral arguments before the ruling — an unusual step since the Texas’ Ninth District Court of Appeals originally ruled against the cheerleaders.
“At a time when religious liberty is under assault nationwide, this ruling is a welcome reminder that the Constitution protects people of faith — and a welcome rebuke to government agencies that try to play games with our rights,” James Ho, lead appellate counsel from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, another firm representing the cheerleaders, said in a statement.
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