Supreme Court Sides With Football Coach in Public School Prayer Case

Headline Roundup June 27th, 2022

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled 6-3 that a Washington high school football coach had a constitutional right to kneel and pray on the field. 

Coach Joe Kennedy would lead postgame prayers at the 50-yard line, a ritual that some of his players voluntarily participated in. Kennedy was placed on paid administrative leave in 2016 after the school district requested him to stop praying on the field, claiming that it violated school policy and the Constitution. In the majority opinion written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the court concluded that Kennedy’s prayers were protected by the First Amendment and that the school district's decision was "misguided." Gorsuch also pushed back against the notion that the students could've felt "coerced" given that they "were not required or expected to participate."

Coverage from across the spectrum noted that the conservative majority in the Supreme Court has continuously ruled in favor of religious expression in public spaces and "less separation" between church and state. Some left-rated outlets noted that Kennedy received a "poor performance evaluation" before being placed on paid leave; while others criticized the Supreme Court decision for embracing a "false narrative of faith-based persecution" and "stripping" students' "freedom against religious indoctrination." Conversely, right-rated outlets were more likely to praise the ruling for affirming "religious liberty" and criticized the "lame" counterarguments from liberal justices who voted for "government hostility toward Christianity."

From the Right
1586

On Monday morning, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District that a public high school football coach in the state of Washington had his First Amendment rights violated after he was placed on administrative leave by the school district and banned from participating in the football program for praying on the field after games in view of students.

“SCOTUS sides with a high school football coach in a First Amendment case about prayer at the 50-yard-line,” SCOTUS Blog tweeted Monday morning. “In a 6-3 ruling,...

Read full story
Some content from this outlet may be limited or behind a paywall.
From the Left
1586
ANALYSIS

In another extreme ruling, the Supreme Court has removed foundational, decades-old constitutional limits on religion in public schools. Its Monday decision in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District overruled a half-century of precedent to elevate the rights of public school officials over students. The ruling will allow these officials to engage in coercive sectarian prayer on the job. Justice Neil Gorsuch’s 6–3 decision is another maximalist attack on the separation of church and state, stripping students of their First Amendment freedom against religious indoctrination. His opinion also embraces a false narrative of faith-based persecution,...

Read full story
Some content from this outlet may be limited or behind a paywall.
From the Center
1586

The Supreme Court sided Monday with a high school football coach from Washington state who sought to kneel and pray on the field after games, a decision that could strengthen the acceptability of some religious practices in other public school settings.

The court ruled 6-3 for the coach with the court’s conservative justices in the majority and its liberals in dissent. The justices said the coach’s prayer was protected by the First Amendment.

“The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious...

Read full story