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Texas Cheerleaders' 'Bible Banners' Case Could Go to State Supreme Court

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By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter
January 3, 2014|11:37 am

Speculation abounds that a lawsuit regarding the constitutionality of a Texas high school's "Bible Banners" may go all the way to the state supreme court.

Cheerleaders at Kountze High School are awaiting a decision expected soon from the Ninth Judicial District regarding an appeal to an earlier decision upholding the constitutionality of their usage of Bible banners at high school football games.

Whatever the decision may be, there appears to be a strong likelihood that the lawsuit will be appealed and go to the state Supreme Court level, according to local media.

"The court is reviewing a recent round of briefs filed in the case," reported Cassie Smith of the Beaumont Enterprise.

"Beaumont Attorney David Starnes said the court ruled it didn't need to hear oral arguments and is instead basing its decision on the briefs. He said that, depending on the court's wording and decision, the ruling could still be [taken] to the Texas Supreme Court."

In September 2012, officials at the Kountze Independent School District decided that cheerleaders could no longer display large banners that included Bible verses on them.

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Many of the Bible banners included scriptural verses of encouragement and were "run through" banners in which the football team charged through as they ran onto the field for their games.

"It is not a personal opinion of mine," said Superintendent Kevin Weldon to the ABC affiliate KVUE regarding the ban.

"My personal convictions are that I am a Christian as well. But I'm also a state employee and Kountze ISD representative. And I was advised that such a practice (religious signs) would be in direct violation of United States Supreme Court decisions."

The decision came in response to a complaint leveled by the Madison, Wis.-based atheist group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which argued that the banners constituted a government endorsement of religion.

Members of the cheerleading squad filed suit, arguing that their freedom of religion had been violated and received, among other support, the backing of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Last May, a Texas district judge ruled in favor of the cheerleaders. Later in the month, Kountze ISD filed an appeal to the upper appellate court.

Justin Butterfield, attorney at the Liberty Institute, told The Christian Post in an earlier interview that he was opposed to what the school district was doing.

"It's unfortunate that the school district keeps spending taxpayer money fighting against the free speech rights of the cheerleaders," said Butterfield. "These cheerleaders simply want to encourage the football team players with uplifting messages."

 

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