September 28, 2015 - Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today filed an amicus brief with the Texas Supreme Court in Matthews v. Kountze Independent School District, supporting the constitutional rights of Texas’ public schoolchildren to express their own messages at school and school-related events.
“The Kountze cheerleaders’ case involves personal expressions of faith and an ill-advised school district change of policy that has mislabeled their expressions of faith as ‘government speech,’” Attorney General Paxton said. “Let’s not forget that our country was founded on the very concept of religious freedom. When our fundamental rights are threatened, we have an obligation to defend them – and I stand with the students and parents at Kountze High School who are committed to move forward in this important fight.”
This case stems from a 2012 complaint by the Freedom From Religion Foundation against Kountze High School for allowing cheerleaders to print Bible verses on run-through banners at football games. Kountze ISD banned students from using the signs, and parents of the cheerleaders filed a lawsuit against the school district. KISD changed its policy to allow the banners, but in doing so claimed, for the first time, that the banners actually convey the school’s speech and not the cheerleaders’ personal expressions of faith. KISD then asked an appeals court to dismiss the case. The Ninth Court of Appeals, in Beaumont, dismissed the case, effectively allowing KISD to control the speech on banners as “school speech” and to disassociate the cheerleaders from their personal expressions of faith. The ruling is now before the Texas Supreme Court.
Attorney General Paxton has consistently and fervently defended religious liberty. On August 24, Attorney General Paxton filed an amicus brief on behalf of 20 states with the U.S. Supreme Court in Little Sisters v. Burwell, supporting the religious nonprofit’s right to exercise sincerely-held religious beliefs. On August 10, the Attorney General filed another amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in Houston Baptist University v. Burwell in support of the petitioners’ fight against Obamacare’s contraception mandate based on its religious objections.
To view the brief in Matthews v. Kountze Independent School District, please visit: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/files/epress/files/2015/Brief_of_Am...