Thursday, June 5, 2014

Cagey Ruling on Sectarian Banners

“The decision puts us back at square one,” said Rebecca Robertson, director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas (ACLU).
“These banners send a message to students of minority faiths and non-believers that they are not welcome at their own football games.”
At high school football games in Kountze, Texas, the cheerleaders carry banners with quotations from the New Testament.
For example, one banner read, “I can do all things through CHRIST which strengthens me.”
Somebody complained. The superintendent consulted a lawyer and banned the banners.
Several cheerleaders sued the school district in state court. Their lawyer claimed that the cheerleaders had a right to express their personal opinions on the banners.
The Kountze school board declared that it, not the cheerleaders, controlled the banner displays. However, the board adopted a policy to allow the religious messages as “fleeting expressions of community sentiment.”
The(ACLU) submitted a brief. It agreed that the school board controlled the displays.
It asked the court to forbid the religious messages, because they violated the No-Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. They endorsed religion, coerced audience participation, and entangled the school with religion.
In May, the Court of Appeals Judge dodged the church-state issue.
He ruled that the cheerleaders had no standing to sue, because the district had agreed to allow the religious banners.
He avoided offending the pro-banner citizens, and he upheld the authority of the school district.
The district got what it wanted, until somebody challenges the banners in federal court. The cheerleaders’ lawyer will ask the Texas Supreme Court to let the cheerleaders direct the banner display.
The case is Matthews v. Kountze.

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