Thursday, May 9, 2013

Victory for Kountze Cheerleaders

IN THE SCHOOL

Yesterday marked a huge win for students’ religious freedoms, as the Kountze High School Cheerleaders secured a victory in their Bible banner case. These brave young women stood strong, proving that wonderful things can happen when you make the bold choice to stand for your faith.

Last fall, Kountze ISD banned the high school cheerleaders from writing Bible verses on run-through banners at school sporting events. The Kountze superintendent made the decision after the district received a threatening demand letter from Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Liberty Institute and our affiliated local attorney David Starnes were able to obtain a temporary injunction, allowing the student-made banners to continue.


(Listen to Liberty Institute President & CEO Kelly Shackelford discuss the case on The Mike Huckabee Show.)

For the past several months, the cheerleaders faced an intense battle for religious freedom – a battle that included numerous hearings, many motions and pleadings, and days of intense depositions in which the young women endured hours of brutal questioning.

The Court’s Summary Judgment Order declares:
  • “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 I.S.D. to prohibit the inclusion of religious-themed banners at school sporting events.”

“The Court’s order vindicates our clients’ rights and brings this case to a successful end,” said Liberty Institute Attorney Roger Byron. “We are pleased that the judge ruled to protect the cheerleaders’ display of banners with religious messages at sporting events. This is a great victory, not only for these cheerleaders, but for religious liberty of student leaders across the country.”

This victory was also made possible by the help of the Texas Attorney General.

“We especially appreciate the efforts of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who intervened into the case in support of the cheerleaders,” said Hiram Sasser, Liberty Institute’s Director of Litigation. “The extra efforts of Deputy Solicitor General Adam Aston were instrumental in the successful resolution of this case.”

Liberty Institute is proud of these young women for taking a bold stand, and we are thankful to our loyal supporters – you helped secure this win for religious freedom.

Your continued prayer, your willingness to share this story with your friends and family, and your generous financial support has enabled Liberty Institute to stand with cheerleaders as they bravely fought for their First Freedom.

While we do pause to celebrate this victory, our work is never done. The fight to protect religious freedom in our schools continues, and our opposition is growing more aggressive by the day.

Please consider a gift today to help us continue to defend the constitutional rights of students throughout the country that are facing religious discrimination.

Also, don’t forget to “like” Liberty Institute on Facebook to stay up-to-date on critical cases affecting your religious liberty!

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.