Free Speech Restored 6 Yes, 3 No by Supreme Court for Praying Coach
The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a high school football coach had a constitutional right to pray at the 50-yard line after his team's games.
The vote was 6 to 3, with the court's three liberal members in dissent. The decision came less than a week after the court ruled, by the same vote, that Maine could not exclude religious schools from a tuition program, and it was the latest in a long line of decisions expanding the place of religion in public life and particularly in education.
Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, writing for the majority, said the prayers of the coach, Joseph Kennedy, were protected by the First Amendment, reported the Times.
The opinion is posted here and Judge Gorsuch, who wrote the majority opinion, concludes at page 36 and 37 of the 76 page opinion:
" Respect for religious expressions is indispensable to life in a free and diverse Republic-whether those expressions take place in a sanctuary or on a field, and whether they manifest through the spoken word or a bowed head. Here, a government entity sought to punish an individual for engaging in a brief, quiet, personal religious observance doubly protected by the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment. And the only meaningful justification the government offered for its reprisal rested on a mistaken view that it had a duty to ferret out and suppress religious observances even as it allows comparable secular speech. The Constitution neither mandates nor tolerates that kind of discrimination. Mr. Kennedy is entitled to summary judgment on his First Amendment claims. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is Reversed."