Sunday, January 31, 2016

Texas Supreme Court: Cheerleaders' Battle With School District Not Moot

In Matthews v. Kountze Independent School District, (TX Sup. Ct., Jan. 29. 2016), the Texas Supreme Court, without hearing or oral argument, held that a dispute between football cheerleaders and a local school system over run-through banners carrying religious messages is not moot.  Originally the school banned the religious verses, but after a trial court issued a temporary injunction allowing the cheerleaders to continue using the banners, the school reversed its ban and the court of appeals agreed with the school that this eliminated any live controversy. (See prior posting.) The Supreme Court reversed, saying in part:
the District’s voluntary abandonment here provides no assurance that the District will not prohibit the cheerleaders from displaying banners with religious signs or messages at school-sponsored events in the future.
Justice Willett filed a concurring opinion, invoking analogies from the movie The Lion King. Justice Guzman filed a concurring opinion emphasizing that school officials need guidance on the extent to which limits on religious speech are permissible. AP reports on the decision. [Thanks to Steven Jamar via Religionlaw for the lead.]