Supreme Court Tackling Case of Praying Football Coach Today

LE††UCE PREY

The case before the justices on Monday involves Joseph Kennedy, a former football coach at Bremerton High School in Bremerton, Washington. For years, the coach would kneel at the center of the field following games and lead students in prayer. The school district eventually learned what he was doing and asked him to stop.

Kennedy’s lawyers say the Constitution’s freedom of speech and freedom of religion guarantees allow him to pray on the field, with students free to join. But the school district says Kennedy’s religious speech interfered with students’ own religious freedom rights, could have the effect of pressuring students to pray and opened the district itself to lawsuits. The school district says it tried to work out a solution so Kennedy, who is Christian, could pray privately before or after the game, including on the field after students left, but Kennedy’s lawsuit followed.

The case comes to the court at a time when conservative justices make up a majority of the court and have been sympathetic to the concerns of religious individuals and groups, such as groups that brought challenges to coronavirus restrictions that applied to houses of worship.

Seattle Times

April 25 (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority on Monday appeared sympathetic toward an appeal by a Christian former public high school football coach in Washington state who was suspended from his job for refusing to stop leading prayers with players on the field after games.

Conservative justices signaled skepticism toward the idea that Kennedy’s actions could be viewed as government endorsement of religion. They noted that his prayers occurred after games and seemed to view them as not part of his official duties. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, for example, said Kennedy did not order his players to “huddle up” as he would do during his normal coaching duties, meaning they were not required to join in.

Conservative justices signaled skepticism toward the idea that Kennedy’s actions could be viewed as government endorsement of religion. They noted that his prayers occurred after games and seemed to view them as not part of his official duties. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, for example, said Kennedy did not order his players to “huddle up” as he would do during his normal coaching duties, meaning they were not required to join in.

Reuters

No scripture and/or proselytizing

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