IN THE SCHOOL
This week marked another step in the famous Kountze Cheerleader case, as Liberty Institute, our Lead Appellate Counsel Jim Ho of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, and Attorney David Starnes filed a brief to oppose the Kountze ISD’s appeal of the cheerleaders’ victory.
For more than a year, the cheerleaders and Kountze ISD have been embroiled in heated litigation over the students’ free speech and religious liberty rights. Liberty, Jim Ho and David Starnes represent the Kountze cheerleaders and their parents.
View the appellate brief.
Brave Student Leaders Fight Back
In the fall of 2012, in an effort to share positive messages with players and fans, high school and middle school cheerleaders in Kountze, painted Bible verses on their student-made run-through banners at school football games.
After receiving a complaint letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Kountze ISD superintendent banned the religious messages.
Liberty Institute immediately stepped in with Starnes and filed a lawsuit on behalf of the cheerleaders and their parents. In May 2013, all of America celebrated with the cheerleaders when 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.
Shockingly, Kountze ISD is appealing that order, claiming the cheerleaders’ speech is not protected by the First Amendment because it is “government speech.”
“The message on the banners is plainly the private speech of the cheerleaders, not the government,” said Hiram Sasser, Liberty Institute Director of Litigation. “No court has ever held that a student speaking on a message of his or her own choice is a government speaker. If Kountze ISD prevails in its appeal, the religious messages on the banners will be banned under federal law, and it would set precedent nationwide. We owe it to the cheerleaders and the community to make sure the Court gets it right and rejects Kountze ISD’s appeal.”
Protecting Religious Freedom in the Schools
Students, parents and teachers have the right to express their faith in public and private — including in our schools and universities.
To help everyone involved better understand what is actually allowed when it comes to religious expression in the school, Liberty Institute developed a Student Bill of Rights – FAQ.
Please take a moment to review this comprehensive document, and if you still have any questions, or know of anyone in the school facing religious hostility, please contact us at 972-941-4444, or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help Us Defend Students Across the Country
The outcome of the Koutnze cheerleader case will have far reaching affects on the religious freedom of students nationwide. That’s why we need your continued prayer and financial support.
Liberty Institute does not receive a dime of taxpayer support. While we do receive donated time from our amazing volunteer attorneys, like Jim Ho and David Starnes, Liberty still carries a big financial burden.
Please, consider a gift today to help this critical case. Every dollar donated doubles in value because of our first-class volunteer attorneys who selflessly give their time to advance the cause of religious freedom.
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, in the military, 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.