Judiciary

Federal Judge's Order Takes Swipe at Politicians Who 'Demagogued' School Prayer Case


A federal judge whose writing attracted a newspaper’s attention earlier this year is back in the news again, this time for taking a swipe at his critics.

U.S. District Judge Fred Biery of San Antonio approved a settlement in a school prayer case last Thursday and added an unusual personal statement that refers to assassination threats and politicians who “demagogued this case,” the Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports.

Biery had ruled last summer that student prayers at graduation were likely to violate the establishment clause, a decision overturned by the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. His original ruling attracted the attention of GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who called Biery “an anti-religious, dictatorial bigot,” according to coverage by MySA.com.

Biery approved a settlement that allows students to pray at graduation, but bars school employees from initiating or joining prayers in the presence of students, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports. His order (PDF) includes this personal statement:

During the course of this litigation, many have played a part:

To the United States Marshal Service and local police who have provided heightened security:

Thank you.

To those Christians who have venomously and vomitously cursed the court family and threatened bodily harm and assassination: In His name, I forgive you.

To those who have prayed for my death: Your prayers will someday be answered, as inevitably trumps probability.

To those in the executive and legislative branches of government who have demagogued this case for their own political goals: You should be ashamed of yourselves.

To the lawyers who have advocated professionally and respectfully for their clients’ respective positions: Bless you.

A prior Wall Street Journal story on judges who reference pop culture and add humor to their opinions cited Biery as an example. The story noted this Biery quote: ” ‘We’re Number One’ was a chant denoting a winning sports team; now it refers to America’s fatness.”

The SBM Blog noted Biery’s opinion.

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