In what one admirer called "a concise masterpiece of sanity," U.S. District Judge Fred Biery settled a high-profile case involving prayer in a Texas school, along the way fabulously blasting critics who have "demagogued this case for their own political goals" - most notably, Newt Gingrich, who called him "un-American" and "tyrannical." In a personal statement, Biery noted what the case was about - the effort to harmonize competing interests in the First Amendment - and what it was not about - the right to pray.
"Any American can pray, silently or verbally, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, in private as Jesus taught or in large public events as Mohammed instructed....To those who have prayed for my death: Your prayers will someday be answered, as inevitability trumps probability."
After signing his name to the final judgment and order, Biery appended "A 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."