- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 9, 2013

A judge ruled on Wednesday that high school cheerleaders in Texas do have the legal right to wave banners quoting biblical verses during football games.

The ruling settles, in part, a long-running dispute at Kountze High School that pitted the cheerleading squad against school administrators who feared a lawsuit from banners that blazed Bible quotes. The Freedom From Religion Foundation had complained about the banners last September. State District Judge Steven Thomas said the banners are protected by the Constitution, Fox News reported.

But he didn’t rule whether the banners are protected under the First Amendment’s free speech provisions, Fox News reported.

He said no law “prohibits cheerleaders from using religious-themed banners at school sporting events,” in his ruling. But the Freedom From Religion Foundation had argued the banners represented a violation of the First Amendment’s prohibition against government establishing a religion, and the judge’s ruling did not address that argument specifically.

Supporters of the cheerleaders’ right to wave the banners hailed the judge’s ruling.

“This is a great victory for the cheerleaders and now they’re going to be able to have their banners,” said the lead attorney for the Liberty Institute, the nonprofit firm that had represented the cheerleaders, in Fox News.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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