US Supreme Court protects coach’s right to on-field prayers

Another superb decision out of the US Supreme Court, ruling that a school district violated high school football coach Joe Kennedy’s First Amendment rights by firing him for saying on-field prayers after games.

Junior varsity head coach Joe Kennedy, lost his job over peacefully reciting a prayer by himself on the 50-yard line after games.

The school district’s reasoning was that if they allowed Kennedy, their employee, to pray on the field at a school game, it would violate the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which protects separation of church and state.

“That reasoning was misguided,” the majority Supreme Court opinion said. “Both the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect expressions like Mr. Kennedy’s. Nor does a proper understanding of the Amendment’s Establishment Clause require the government to single out private religious speech for special disfavor. “

“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,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the Court’s opinion. “Religious observances even as it allows comparable secular speech. The Constitution neither mandates nor tolerates that kind of discrimination.”

The Court’s ruling also stated that there is a distinct reason for why speech like Kennedy’s is protected by both the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses.

“That the First Amendment doubly protects religious speech is no accident. It is a natural outgrowth of the framers’ distrust of government attempts to regulate religion and suppress dissent,” Gorsuch wrote.

Full story here.

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