Why The Supreme Court’s Football Decision Is A Game-Changer On School Prayer – Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha, Nebraska 2022-06-30 07:00:00 –

The US Supreme Court has consistently banned school-sponsored prayers in public schools. At the same time, lower courts generally prohibit public school employees from praying openly at work, even if students are not involved.

However, on June 27, 2022, the Supreme Court effectively appreciated the prayers of individual employees. This could usher in more religious activity in public schools.

In the Kennedy v Bremerton School District, the first case in which the Supreme Court addressed this issue directly, the court contracted after the Washington State Board of Education ignored district authorities’ instructions to stop kneeling in quiet prayer. We have ruled that we have infringed the coach’s rights by not renewing. At the 50 yard line of the field after the game. He claimed that the Board violated the First Amendment’s right to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, with a majority of the Supreme Court agreeing 6-3.

This case is noteworthy because, in my view as an education law expert, the court has decided that public school staff can pray when overseeing students. It also appointed the Supreme Court’s term when the current judge’s growing interest in allegations of religious discrimination was fully demonstrated and another “separation of church and state” case in favor of religious plaintiffs was decided last week. Helps to conclude. And on June 24, 2022, the court overturned the Roe v. Wade case. The debate over abortion is often constructed from a religious point of view, even if the court’s decision focuses on other constitutional reasons.

In 2008, self-proclaimed Christian Kennedy was the head coach of the junior national team and the assistant coach of the national team at Bremerton High School. After the match, he began to kneel at the 50-yard line, regardless of the outcome, and offered a short, quiet prayer of gratitude.

Kennedy initially prayed alone, but eventually most of the players on the team and members of the opposite team joined. He later added a moving speech, expressing concern to some parents and school employees that players would be forced to attend.

School officials instructed Kennedy to stop praying outdoors because he feared that Kennedy’s actions could pose a risk to the board of directors for violating Article 1 of the Constitutional Amendment. The government is prohibited from enacting legislation that “respects the establishment of religion or prohibits its free exercise.” This is known as the Establishment Clause, which is often understood to mean that civil servants cannot promote a particular belief to others.

In September 2015, school officials informed coaches that they could continue to make inspiring speeches after the match, but they had to remain mundane. The students could pray, but he couldn’t. Still, a month later, Kennedy resumed outdoor prayer. He announced plans to do so, with players, coaches and parents joining in as reporters watched.

Bremerton’s school board offered Kennedy accommodation to allow more personal prayers in the field after the stadium was emptied, but he refused. At the end of October, authorities put him on paid leave for violating their directives and eventually chose not to renew his one-year contract. Kennedy filed a proceeding in August 2016.

Two complex clauses

Kennedy made two main claims: the school board violated his right to free speech and the free practice of his religion. However, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dismissed these claims twice because, when he prayed, he concluded that his actions were as a civil servant who could be considered board-approved. did. In addition, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the Board of Education that the district was keenly interested in not violating the Establishment Clause clause.

However, in oral arguments at the Supreme Court, the majority of judges sympathized with Kennedy’s allegations of religious discrimination and were more concerned with his right to religious freedom than the Board’s concerns about the establishment of a national religion ban. It was clear that it was.

In a court writing, Judge Neil Gorsuch said: [does not] Demands the government to select private religious speeches for special disgust. The Constitution and our highest tradition advise on mutual respect and tolerance for religious and non-religious views, not censorship or oppression. “

One aspect of Kennedy with potentially widespread consequences is that it largely rejects the three major tests that courts have long applied in cases involving religion.

The first Lemon v. Kurtzmann case was a 1971 controversy over aid to a faith-based school in Pennsylvania. The Supreme Court’s ruling required that the interaction between government and religion must pass a three-sided test to avoid violating the establishment clause. First, action must have a secular legislative purpose. Moreover, its principles or key effects must not advance or impede religion and cannot create undue entanglement between government and religion. Whether for or against the “lemon test,” it was often awkward.

Ten years later, in Lynch vs. Donnelly, a case involving a Christmas exhibition at a public facility in Rhode Island, the court ruled that government actions did not appear to support a particular religion.

Finally, in a 1992 dispute over the prayer of graduation from Lee vs. Wiseman, Rhode Island, the court wrote that submitting students to prayer was a form of coercion.

The Supreme Court has withdrawn from the Lemon Test for years. In 1993, Judge Antonin Scalia carefully explained, “In a late-night horror movie, a ghoul who sits in a grave and shuffles abroad after being killed and buried many times.” […stalking] The jurisprudence of our establishment clause. “

Kennedy may have driven the last nail into the lemon casket, and Gorsuch wrote that the court should instead interpret the establishment clause in the light of “historical practices and understanding.” He went on to say, “This court has long admitted that’junior high school students are mature enough’,” and authorities have given that view to schools that allow freedom of speech to avoid discrimination. I understand that it doesn’t mean that I support it. It goes without saying that students are forced to participate.


For almost as long as the court’s opinion, Judge Sonia Sotomayor expressed serious concern about the outcome with the addition of Judges Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. Sotomayor first tuned in, saying, “We paid almost exclusive attention to the protection of the free movement clause against individual religious movements, while giving a short grace to the ban on the establishment of national religion by the establishment clause.” Blame.

Opposition reflected several points of opposition to Carson v. Makin, another high-profile case of religion and school, on June 21, 2022, when Sot Mayor “disassembled the wall of separation of church and state.” Criticized the majority for that. Build. “

Kennedy v Bremerton is unlikely to end the disagreement over freedom of speech, or civil servant prayer as a tension between the freedom movement and the establishment clause.

In fact, this case is reminiscent of the saying that you should be aware of your wishes, as your wishes may come true. By leaving the door to more individual prayers open at school, the court may also open a can of worm proverbs. When do supporters gathered behind a Christian coach want to publicly show their beliefs to other groups that differ from their values, or when do they become equally open-minded?

Meanwhile, Kennedy wants to get his job back, so stay tuned.

Charles J. Russo is Joseph Panzer, Chairman of the Faculty of Education, Faculty of Education and Health Sciences, and Professor of Law Studies at the University of Dayton. This article has been republished by The Conversation, a non-profit media company that uses academic and research content. For more information, please visit

Why The Supreme Court’s Football Decision Is A Game-Changer On School Prayer Source link Why The Supreme Court’s Football Decision Is A Game-Changer On School Prayer

Back to top button