Supreme Court rules school district can’t ban football coaches’ prayers on the field

The opinion was 6 to 3 along conservative-liberal ideological lines.

“The Constitution and the best of our traditions advise mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and repression, for religious and non-religious views,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion.

The court said Coach Joe Kennedy’s prayers amounted to private speech, protected by the First Amendment, and could not be restricted by the school district.

The decision lowers the bar between church and state in a notice that will allow for greater religious expression in public spaces. The court clarified that a government entity does not necessarily violate the Establishment Clause by allowing religious expression in public.

The ruling continues the trend of a right-wing court that has repeatedly sided with religious conservatives in recent years. Last week, the court said Maine could not exclude religious schools from tuition assistance programs in a 6-3 decision split on ideological grounds.

“We are unaware of any historically sound understanding of the Establishment Clause that begins to ‘(make) it necessary for the government to be hostile to religion’ in this way,” Gorsuch wrote.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor, writing for the three liberal dissenters, said the court is “weakening” the Establishment Clause’s “backstop” protecting religious freedom.

“It elevates an individual’s interest in personal religious exercise, at the exact time and place of his choosing, above society’s interest in protecting the separation of church and state, eroding religious freedom protections for all,” Sotomayor wrote.

This story is broken and will be updated.


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