IN THE SCHOOL
Kountze ISD Files Motion to Appeal Ruling in High-Profile Bible Banner Case
KOUNTZE, TX, May 28, 2013—After losing its case against the cheerleaders earlier this month, Kountze ISD is appealing to the court of appeals. On May 8, 2013, the Hardin County District Court issued an order granting the Kountze Cheerleaders permission to display run-through banners with Bible messages at Kountze ISD sporting events. That order ended a seven-month stretch of intense and heated litigation between the cheerleaders and Kountze ISD that drew national attention to the small, closely knit community of Kountze, Texas. Liberty Institute and David Starnes represent the Kountze cheerleaders and their parents. View the appeal.
“It is unfortunate that Kountze ISD keeps spending taxpayer money fighting against the speech rights of these cheerleaders,” said Hiram Sasser, Director of Litigation for Liberty Institute. “I do not understand why the school district cannot simply accept that it lost and move on instead of continuing to fight against these cheerleaders who simply wanted to encourage the players with uplifting messages.”
In an effort to share positive and uplifting messages with players and fans, high school and middle school cheerleaders in Kountze, TX, painted Bible verses on their student-made run-through banners at their school football games. After receiving a complaint from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the Kountze ISD superintendent banned the messages. Then, in September 2012, Beaumont attorney David Starnes and Liberty Institute filed a lawsuit, Coti Matthews on behalf of her minor child, Macy Matthews, et al., v. Kountze Independent School District, on behalf of Kountze ISD cheerleaders and their parents. In October 2012, the court granted a temporary injunction allowing student-made religious banners to continue until a final decision in the case.
Along the way, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott intervened in the case to support the cheerleaders. Then, in May 2013, Hardin County Judge Steven Thomas granted an order permitting the Kountze Cheerleaders to continue displaying run-through banners with Bible messages at Kountze ISD sporting events. Kountze ISD is appealing that order.
About Liberty Institute
Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.