Cheerleader Lawsuit May Continue

The state judge may have ruled that the cheerleaders in Kountze, Texas can continue to make banners with religious messages on them at football games, but the issue may not yet be over (and I hope it isn’t). The FFRF is looking for a plaintiff to file their own suit:

But Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said she anticipates the debate will continue.

Gaylor, whose group complained about the use of the signs last fall in response to a complaint from someone in the bleachers, said the case belonged in a federal court, not a local state court presided over by an elected judge.

She said her group hopes to represent someone – a student, parent, faculty or anyone else in the stands – who objects to the banners at high school football games.

It’s important to recognize that the ruling last week came in a suit that was filed not by the opponents of the practice, but by the cheerleaders themselves. And they filed in state court because they knew they were more likely to get a favorable ruling by an elected judge in Texas than by a federal judge. But since this is a First Amendment issue, it really belongs in federal court.

Unfortunately, it may be difficult to get a suit there. First, they have to find a plaintiff and that is likely to be difficult in Kountze, Texas. Even if someone there wants to challenge the practice, they would undoubtedly have to endure a furious backlash of bullying, death threats and very likely vandalism and violence. And the second problem is standing, which is always a problem in such cases.

About Ed Brayton

After spending several years touring the country as a stand up comedian, Ed Brayton tired of explaining his jokes to small groups of dazed illiterates and turned to writing as the most common outlet for the voices in his head. He has appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show and the Thom Hartmann Show, and is almost certain that he is the only person ever to make fun of Chuck Norris on C-SPAN.

  • dogmeat

    I wonder if a student from a school that played against them would have standing…

  • abb3w

    The rulings in Santa Fe v Doe (SCOTUS) and Doe v Silsbee (5th) seem to leave this ruling in massive trouble, if the FRFF can ever turn up a suitable plaintiff.

    The high school has 380 kids; my back of the envelope demographics numbers for Texas teens suggest there ought to be 3-6 full-fledged Atheists, but the climate would probably keep them pretty far in the closet. Finding one with a parent willing to support pursuing the case might be harder.

  • d.c.wilson

    If the opposing team loses, can they claim Jesus gave them an unfair advantage?

  • Modusoperandi

    “L-A-U, S-I-T! Lawsuit, hey! Lawsuit! Hey! L A U, S I T, you won’t take banners from me! Lawsuit! Hey! Lawsuit! Hey! The defense rests, your honor.”