In a hearing today, Texas State Judge Steven Thomas issued a temporary injunction that allows Kountze High School cheerleaders to continue their practice of raising banners on the field with Christian messages. The judge had previously placed a temporary restraining order lifting the county’s ban on such signs out of concern for the Establishment Clause. Education Week’s Mark Walsh reports that lawyers for the school district insist the cheerleaders are representatives of the school:
“The superintendent, although making a very unpopular decision, did not make it in malice. He made the decision based on Santa Fe vs. Doe,” Brandt said, according to Associated Press and KFDM-TV accounts. “The political winds are blowing very strong in one direction but the law says something different. This is not a freedom of speech case. This is an issue of the Establishment Clause.”
David Starnes, the attorney representing the cheerleaders, said their banners were not sponsored by the school.
“It is the individual speech of the cheerleaders and not in fact the government speaking,” Starnes said, according to the AP and KFDM accounts. “It is not just one girl or one person in the group that comes up with the quote, but it’s on a rotating basis that each girl gets to pick the quote. That is their individual voices that are being portrayed on the banner.”
The judge set a trial date in June 2013.