(WASHINGTON) — The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the First Amendment protects a public school coach’s right to pray near students.
The case focusing on separation of church and state involved a high school football coach praying post-game at the 50-yard line, joined by his players.
The court held that the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect an individual engaging in a personal religious observance from government reprisal; the Constitution neither mandates nor permits the government to suppress such religious expression.
Justice Neil Gorsuch authored the opinion. The vote was 6-3.
“Both the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect expressions like Mr. Kennedy’s,” Gorsuch wrote. “Nor does a proper understanding of the Amendment’s Establishment Clause require the government to single out private religious speech for special disfavor. The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike.”
Gorsuch wrote for the majority, “the Constitution neither mandates nor permits the government to suppress such religious expression.”
Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented, joined by Justice Stephen Breyer and Elana Kagan.
Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Samuel Alito and Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the opinion in its entirety
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