The Supreme Court sided with a former high school coach who was fired for praying after football games.
Justice Niel Gorsuch wrote that the coach held a “quiet, personal prayer.”
But Judge Sonia Sotomayor noted that the coach-led prayers involved numerous players, saying Gorsuch’s characterization “misinterprets the facts.”
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor called her colleague Neil Gorsuch and said his decision to side with a praying ex-football coach “misinterprets the facts” of the case.
The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision handed down Monday, sided with a former high school football coach who was fired from office immediately after games for leading prayers at the 50-yard line.
Judge Neil Gorsuch provided the majority opinion for the case, Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, writing, “The Constitution and the best of our traditions advocate mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and oppression, of both religious and non-religious views.” .”
In his opinion, Gorsuch wrote that the coach, Joe Kennedy, led a “quiet, personal prayer.”
But in her dissenting opinion, Judge Sonia Sotomayor said Kennedy’s prayers were not as small as the court’s opinion claimed.
“The record reveals that Kennedy had been holding demonstrative prayers on the football field’s 50-yard line for a long time. Kennedy consistently invited others to join in prayer and for years led student athletes in prayer at the same time and location,” Sotomayor wrote. “The Court ignores this history.”
Sotomayor also added a photo of one of Kennedy’s post-game prayers in her dissenting opinion, which shows a number of students gathered around him on the field.
She wrote that during this prayer on September 11, 2015, Kennedy “said a prayer, holding up a player’s helmet while the players knelt around him.”
Kennedy initially sued Bremerton School District because their requests to stop his prayers violated his First Amendment rights.
The district argued that they did not oppose Kennedy praying, only asking him to pray alone and away from the students, even offering him the opportunity to return to the field after students and other bystanders left the area. had left the games.
The school district said Kennedy’s behavior could be seen as a government endorsement of religion, which prohibits the First Amendment’s founding clause.
After multiple lower courts dismissed his legal challenges, Kennedy finally turned to the Supreme Court, which took his case and ultimately sided with him.
In her dissent, Sotomayor also tore up the court’s decision as it eroded the separation of church and state.
“The Court continues to set us on a dangerous path by forcing states to get caught up in religion when all our rights are at stake,” Sotomayor wrote. “Although the Court protests otherwise, today’s decision is not a victory for religious freedom.”
Read the original article Business Insider