Fact-Checking Gingrich on Texas School Prayer Case
A Texas judge figured into a recent Newt Gingrich victory speech. KUT’s Nathan Bernier spoke with Gardner Selby of the Austin American-Statesman’s PolitiFact Texas about Gingrich’s assertion that the federal government’s legislative and executive branches should remove judges who are believed to be abusing their power and acting out of sync with our culture.
Gingrich was referring to a Texas judge who ruled last year in a case, which has since been settled, between a family and the Medina Valley school district that challenged organized prayer at a high school graduation. Gingrich asserted that students couldn’t pray or use the words “benediction” or “invocation” or “God,” or ask the audience to stand or for a moment of silence, and claimed that the judge threatened to put the superintendent in jail if anyone disobeyed. Politifact found that Gingrich got a few things right and a few wrong.
The judge’s order is kind of iffy. It says violations of the order could be penalized by incarceration or other sanctions; we found out from other lawyers in our research that that’s a fairly common, almost a boilerplate warning, often leads to fines. Finally, not only were punishments short of jail possible, there was no singling out of the superintendent.