The much-followed case in Kountze, Texas over whether cheerleaders can make huge banners with Bible verses on them for the football team to run through has its first real court ruling. A Texas state court judge has ruled in favor of the cheerleaders, but issued an opinion that has no substance whatsoever. The only thing the court says is:
The evidence in this case confirms that religious messages expressed on run-through banners have not created, and will not create, an establishment of religion in the Kountze community.
The Kountze cheerleaders’ banners that included religious messages and were displayed during the 2012 football season were constitutionally permissible.
Neither the Establishment Clause nor any other law prohibits the cheerleaders from using religious-themed banners at school sporting events. Neither the Establishment Clause nor any other law requires Kountze ISD to prohibit the inclusion of religious-themed banners at school sporting events.
That’s it, just a conclusion. There is no discussion at all of any legal precedents that justify that conclusion, no discussion of the question of private vs government speech or any other relevant questions in the case.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued a statement that says, in part:
“This is a victory for religious liberties and for high school cheerleaders who stood up to powerful forces that tried to silence their voices. The Freedom From Religion Foundation was wrong in trying to bully Kountze ISD into prohibiting the cheerleaders from displaying banners with religious messages.”
Uh huh. Now let a group of students in an identical situation do the same thing with verses from the Quran instead of the Bible and see how quickly Abbott tries to “bully” the school to prohibit that. I’d set the over/under at about 10 milliseconds.
Like Dispatches on Facebook: