Just in time for another football season, the battle over bible verses at high school football games is back in Texas. On Wednesday, a group of cheerleaders from Kountze High School filed a petition with the TexasSupreme Court asking for a ruling on the Constitutionality of displays of bible verses on banners at football games. "What (the cheerleaders) want is actually a declaration from the Texas Supreme Court that what they do does not violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which many people refer to as that line of separation between church and state," says Gerald Treece, professor at South Texas College of Law.
A group of parents sued on behalf of the cheerleaders two years ago, after the Kountze ISD initially tried to ban the bible verse banners. The district later changed its policy and allowed the banners. In May, a state appeals court essentially tossed the case, ruling it invalid because the district ban was no longer in place. That came shortly after a lower court ruling in favor of the cheerleaders.
However, despite lifting the ban on the banners, the school district retained the right to restrict their content in the future. The cheerleaders' attorneys claim the district does not have the right to do that, because it would violate First Amendment protections.
Even though a petition has been filed with the state's high court, that doesn't mean they will take it. "The Texas Supreme Court has discretionary jurisdiction over these matters, and I don't see any reason for them to get involved at this level," says Treece. He predicts the high court will likely stay out of the issue, using the same rationale as the appeals court. "What we may do is just wait, the court will not review it, then the football season will come and the cheerleaders will bring out their religious verses, and we'll have the cheerleader saga chapter two," says Treece.