Today, Western District of Texas Chief Judge Fred Biery (pictured) gives the public an extraordinary look at what it's like to preside over a case that inflames passion.
Schultz v. Medina Valley Independent School District certainly has sparked controversy. As the San Antonio Express-News has reported, it’s the school prayer case that Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has referred to in several stump speeches, calling for Biery's job to be eliminated because of the judge's previous rulings. “We need to reset the judiciary, explain to them the limits of the American Constitution and prove to them that judges appointed for life cannot be dictators and they cannot threaten our children with jail for saying the word ‘prayer,' ” Gingrich said, according to the Express-News.
In a Feb. 9 opinion and order announcing the Jan. 9 settlement of Schultz, Biery noted that the parties had reached an agreement, writing, "All things work together for good," referring to Romans 8:28.
And at the end of the opinion and order, the judge included a "Personal Statement” that reads:
"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 inevitability trumps probability.
To those in 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."
-- John Council