Attorney David Starnes behind Rebekah Richardson representing the plaintiffs, and J. Michael Johnson (glasses), lead counsel for Liberty Institute. Cheerleader Kieara Moffitt (far left), waits to speak.
Spirits were high and red shirts gleamed among Kountze cheerleaders and parents as they exited the Hardin County Courthouse in a temporary victory, Thursday.
District Judge Steve Thomas announced his ruling of a temporary injunction to last the remainder of the football season, allowing the girls to continue displaying the controversial banners, pending the outcome of a lawsuit which will be heard before a jury.
School officials barred the cheerleaders from displaying banners with religious messages such as,"If God is for us, who can be against us," after receiving a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation stating that the messages violate the First Amendment clause barring the government-or a publicly funded school district, as in this case, from establishing or endorsing a religion.
Thomas's decision was one that weighed heavily. He poured over all aspects of the case as well as what the law requires him to do and the ramifications each party may incur from the results of his ruling.
After a lengthy 14 day fact finding period, Thomas announced Thursday that he would grant the temporary injunction the plaintiff's requested and set a jury trial for June 24, 2013.
Thomas sincerely thanked both parties of attorneys for their professionalism.
"To say that this has been and will continue to be a complex case, is the understatement of the month," Thomas said.
Thomas announced after his ruling that the court was in recess and several supporters of the banners broke out into applause.
Outside the chambers, lead counsel for the cheerleaders and their parents, David Starnes granted a press conference and stated that he was thrilled with the outcome and while it is not permanent, they do consider it a win.
"We are thrilled that the girls are going to be able to continue to display the banners they have created and fought so hard for," Starnes stated.
Thomas Brandt, attorney for Superintendent Kevin Weldon and the Kountze Independent School District was also on hand to issue a statement.
"While this may not be the outcome we had hoped for, we wanted a verdict and we got one today. Superintendent Weldon and the Kountze school district only want to follow the law," Brandt stated.
Brandt also stated previously that Weldon had contacted legal counsel with the TASB upon receiving the letter and acted upon their advice and to comply with existing legal rulings and will continue to do so.
For the present, the Kountze cheerleaders will continue to display the religious themed banners at the games and will revisit the case before a jury on June 24.