Here's his rationale:
In a copy of the ruling obtained by Beaumont station KFDM, Thomas determined that no law "prohibits cheerleaders from using religious-themed banners at school sporting events."Oh, sure, no law does. But, the Constitution of the United States does. This is a clear example of how "illegal" and "unconstitutional" aren't the same thing, often.
This one will, of course, be appealed.
Any religious activity by an officially school-sanctioned organization, while acting as an official organization, has the potential to be coercive and is therefore unconstitutional.
That's contrary Thomas' claims about the First Amendment, reported here:
"Neither the Establishment Clause nor any other law prohibits the cheerleaders from using religious-themed banners at school sporting events," according to the judgment order. "Neither the Establishment Clause nor any other law requires Kountze I.S.D. to prohibit the inclusion of religious-theme banners at school sporting events."Wrong, wrong, wrong.
And, speaking of wingnuts, the chief wingnut gubernatorial candidate in waiting weighs in:
“This is a victory for religious liberties and for high school cheerleaders who stood up to powerful forces that tried to silence their voices. The Freedom From Religion Foundation was wrong in trying to bully Kountze ISD into prohibiting the cheerleaders from displaying banners with religious messages. Our Constitution has never demanded that students check their religious beliefs at the schoolhouse door. Students’ ability to express their religious views adds to the diversity of thought that has made this country so strong. The Kountze Cheerleaders are heroes who fought for principles, and won!""Nice" to know that Greg Abbott is as First Amendment illiterate as Steve Thomas.
First, note the old canard about "check their religious beliefs." Preventing religious coercion doesn't prevent individuals from exercising their individual beliefs.
Second, the "bully" part? Tosh. If anybody's a bully, it's usually the people behind promoting religiously coercive behavior.
Rick Perry weighed in later with his own bit of "school heroes" wingnuttia; surprisingly, Tom Pauken has yet to say anything. That said, he always struck me as a bit less beholden to the Religious Right types than a Perry, let alone an Abbott.
That said, this WILL be appealed; of that, I have no doubt. And appealed. And appealed. To SCOTUS level. And, like with Santa Fe ISD a few years back, a variety of allegedly fiscal conservative Texas wingnuts will waste a bunch of taxpayer dinero, once again. In fact, this layperson sees fairly close parallels between the two.
And, even with the conservative court shift, Santa Fe lost by a 6-3 margin, so, unless this case gets to the Supremes after 2017, Kountze ISD will lose, too, even if 5-4 rather than 6-3.