Conservative SCOTUS majority appears to favor school football coach dismissed for public prayer

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by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – At the end of oral arguments in a case involving the constitutionality of allowing overt prayer and religious expression in public schools, the US Supreme Court’s conservative majority on Monday appeared to sympathize with the plaintiff, a Christian football coach whose employment contract at a public school was not renewed after he prayed on the 50-yard line following games, USA Today reports.

The case was brought by Coach Joseph Kennedy, who filed suit against his employer Bremerton High School in Washington state: Kennedy argues the school violated his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and religion by refusing to renew his contract because he had prayed in public while representing the public school. The school said it received complaints from parents whose children had felt obliged to go along with the coach’s prayer and this was inappropriate at a public school.

Appearing to disagree with the school’s decision to punish Kennedy for his praying in public, conservative Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. raised the issue in court of whether the coach would have been disciplined for protesting the invasion of Ukraine or racial injustice, the New York Times reported.

Moreover, conservative Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh attested in court: “[The prayer’s] not audible to all players. They’re not all there. They don’t have to be there. It’s not a team event. … You’re relying on it being visible, and then the question is, how far does that go? The coach does the sign of the cross right before the game. Could a school fire the coach for the sign of the cross?”

The Supreme court is considering the case because the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco ruled last year that Kennedy prayed on public school property while acting in his capacity as a public employee, USA Today reports. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case this summer.

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