Two First Amendment scholars are warning that a recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of a public high school football coach who prayed at the 50-yard line after games could lead to Christianity dominating schoolhouses. As he did in the 1700s and opening classes with teachers. a prayer.

His views, expressed in an article published in the George Washington Law Review’s “On the Docket” forum, represent only a profound shift in tone and argument in the wake of a series of arguments by the high court’s new conservative majority on such issues. is an example. As on abortion, guns and religion, many longtime court watchers — especially on the left — seem stunned by the speed and intensity of the shift.


The conservative majority’s 6-3 decision in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District overturned decades of precedent on religious jurisprudence and the meaning of the Constitution’s Establishment Clause on the roles of church and state, George Washington University’s According to the law professors who drew the analogy. Some Supreme Court Justices to “Christian Nationalists”.

Ira Lupo and Robert Tuttle, who teach about the Constitution and religion at the district school, noted that the current court has generally sided with Christians and those who support a more explicit role for religion in public life. are, and has warned that this precedent “invites a kind of totalitarianism.”


“It doesn’t take a religion scholar to see what’s been going on at the Supreme Court for the past dozen years. Religion always wins,” he wrote. “And in every case before the Supreme Court, the religion in the case is Christianity.”

“The Christian nationalists among us, and the judges, should be excited. For those of us who know and fear the consequences of a state dominated by one faith, the path to the court is chilling,” he said. added.


Jeremy Dess, a senior attorney at the First Liberty Institute who represented coach Joseph Kennedy, agrees with law professors that the decision could be a landmark, but argues that the outcome of the case would have made Americans more free. Yes, no less.

It will take time for us to fully appreciate the impact of [the Kennedy case]said Mr. Dees. “But that’s only because we’ve lived so long under a misconception about the Establishment Clause.”


For decades, he said, courts have interpreted the First Amendment’s language as prohibiting any law from “establishing” a government-sponsored official belief on campus to “treat religion as such.” Allows like it’s some kind of virus.”

“We are freer today because of Kennedy,” Mr. Dees added. “Our nation has a history and tradition of welcoming religion into the public square.”

The case involved a public high school football coach in Washington state who lost his job for privately praying at the 50-yard line after games. Sometimes the students would join him, while sometimes they would not. Coach Kennedy said he never forced a student to pray.

In a 6-3 decision, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch signaled the end of the so-called “lemon” test, a decades-old precedent that judges tried — somewhat vaguely — to balance First Amendment rights. to do “Free exercise” of religion, with strict opposition to any government endorsement of religion.

Justice Gorsuch said Mr. Kennedy, who coached at a school in Bremerton, Washington, proved that his postgame prayers were private and that no students were forced to join him.

“The Constitution and our best traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, of religious and non-religious views,” he wrote for the majority.

But GW’s Mr. Tuttle told OlxPraca that the ruling still leaves that area of ​​the law “unsettled,” noting that the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has already upheld the Kennedy ruling “with lemons.” ” referred to the termination of a case referred to the lower court. Analysis of a conflict involving a prayer vigil led by a city police department.

He also said Justice Gorsuch’s opinion opens the door for teachers to resume prayer in their public school classrooms.

“It is not inconceivable that a teacher, before the school day opens, before the bell rings—a teacher may engage in prayer and the prayer may be voiced. It may be the Lord’s Prayer and some students join in. Could be,” he said. “All of this is incredibly different from the way we’ve thought about school prayer since the early 1960s.”

John Brush, vice president of appellate advocacy at the Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious liberty law firm, said the professors were analyzing the case in the context of a public servant “praying on the job,” but the Supreme Court clarified. That Mr. Kennedy was not “at work” when he prayed after games.

“School coaches were free to make personal phone calls, check sports scores on their phones, or do any other private thing,” Mr. Brush said. “The only thing the school prohibited during that time was prayer. And the Constitution rightly forbids public employers from telling employees that they can’t pray on their personal time. Such a trivial decision in the Republic does not predict the fall of

Critics of the decision say the coach’s prayer in such a prominent place at the school ceremony was not the private religious moment he claimed. The school district argued that many students joined the coach in his prayers and feared that students and athletes who did not participate would feel discriminated against.

But Will Hahn, a senior attorney at the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, said the Supreme Court’s decision benefits culture because it allows people to bring their faith into public life — and for others to learn and understand the beliefs of others. To respect them.

He said that in a society that includes pluralism from the very beginning, we need to learn to live together. “We lose something when we’re told, ‘You can’t do that in public.’ We are going to treat religion like smoking.

(function (d, s, id) {
var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
if (d.getElementById(id)) return;
js = d.createElement(s); = id;
js.src = “//”;
fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));