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Kountze ISD loses another round in case involving cheerleaders, football and scripture

November 10, 2018

After the Texas Supreme Court on Friday reaffirmed Kountze cheerleaders’ right to quote Bible verses on their spirit signs, the lawyer for the women who brought the lawsuit six years go said it’s time for critics to drop the matter.

“Kountze Independent School District officials continue to waste taxpayer dollars despite Texas courts’ rejecting their efforts to squelch the cheerleaders’ religious free speech,” Hiram Sasser of the First Liberty Institute said in an emailed statement.

The high court declined rehear the case Friday, following a motion last month by the Kountze district’s lawyer requesting it.

That came after the court in August declined to review a Beaumont appeals court’s 2017 ruling in favor of the cheerleaders, who sued after they were banned from quoting scriptures on football game spirit banners. The court ruled the signs were private speech.

“Texas courts have repeatedly made it clear that the Kountze cheerleaders have a right to religious speech on the run through banners they created, with the painted messages they chose, using paint and paper they purchased,” Sasser said Friday.

Kountze ISD attorney Thomas Brandt declined to comment Friday, saying he had not yet been informed of the court’s decision.

Previously, he had argued that by ruling messages on run-through banners constitute private speech of individual cheerleaders, the court of appeals has guaranteed school districts have no “safe path” between First Amendment litigation and litigation under the Texas Constitution.

He also said school districts now face “inconsistent rules” about what is student or school-sponsored speech and districts would face potential litigation no matter what they do.

kaitlin.bain@beaumontenterprise.com

twitter.com/KaitlinBain

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