Texas Cheerleaders Win In Court Again Over Bible Banners

By: CBS/AP posted by Carissa Fox
By: CBS/AP posted by Carissa Fox
A judge has ruled that cheerleaders at a Southeast Texas high school can display banners emblazoned with Bible verses at football games.

Rosa McGee, 104, sits in her daughter's Chicago apartment with her Bible, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008. A recent study has found that reaching the age of 100 has gotten easier. McGee is one of the healthy women in the study who managed to avoid chronic disease. The retired cook and seamstress is also strikingly lucid and credits her faith in God for her good health. She also gets lots of medical attention _ a doctor and nurse make home visits regularly. McGee moved-in with her daughter following a fall in late 2006. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

BEAUMONT, Texas A judge has ruled that cheerleaders at a Southeast Texas high school can display banners emblazoned with Bible verses at football games.

In a summary judgment of a lawsuit filed last year by Kountze High School cheerleaders, State District Judge Steve Thomas ruled Wednesday the banners are constitutionally permissible. In a copy of the ruling obtained by CBS affiliate KFDM in Beaumont, Thomas determined: "The Kountze cheerleaders banners that included religious messages and were displayed during the 2012 football season were constitutionally permissable. Neither the Establishment Clause nor any other law prohibits cheerleaders from using religious-themed banners at school sporting events. Neither the Establishment Clause nor any other law requires Kountze ISD to prohibit inclusion of religious-themed banners at school sporting events."

The ruling ends the case in Thomas' court. The lawsuit had been scheduled for trial June 24.

In October, Thomas granted an injunction requested by the cheerleaders allowing them to continue displaying religious-themed banners pending the lawsuit's outcome. Thomas at the time said the district's ban on the practice appeared to violate free speech rights.

An attorney for the cheerleaders told KFDM the Kountze school board is in the process of amending the district's policy. That policy specifically says the banners are not part of students' limited public forum and do represent government speech. That would mean the district could ban the banners.

Starnes says if a cheerleader is denied the right to a religious banner there could be a new lawsuit over the issue.

The school board could pass the changes as early as its next meeting May 3.
© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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