Friday, May 09, 2014

Texas Court Dismisses As Moot Cheerleaders' Suit Over Religious Banners

In Kountze Independent School District v. Matthews, (TX App., May, 8, 2014), a Texas state appellate court dismissed as moot a once widely followed  suit brought by parents of high school cheerleaders.  Plaintiffs objected to a school policy change in 2012 that barred football cheerleaders from using run-through banners carrying religious messages.  The school's ban was put in place in September 2012 in response to a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Cheerleaders' parents sued, and in October 2012 a trial court issued a temporary injunction permitting cheerleaders to continue to use their own religious-themed run throughs. (See prior posting.) In response to that decision, the school district in April 2013 reversed itself and adopted a new policy again permitting religious messages on run-through banners. In May 2013, the trial court issued a declaratory judgment that neither the Establishment Clause nor any other law prohibits the religious-themed banners at school sporting events. (See prior posting.) Neither party appealed the declaratory judgement, but this left the action seeking a permanent injunction still pending. The school district appealed, arguing that the suit should be dismissed as moot. The court agreed, concluding that the school had adopted a new policy that eliminated any live controversy between the parties.  Courthouse News Service reports on the decision.