Headline RoundupJune 27th, 2022

Supreme Court Sides With Football Coach in Public School Prayer Case

Summary from the AllSides News Team

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."

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