The U.S. Supreme Court issued another critical ruling today that is paramount in the fight for faith and religious liberty in America. After seven years of court battles, the SCOTUS sided with a former high school football coach who lost his job because he refused to stop praying on the field after games.
The Court reinforced that public school officials have a constitutional right to pray publicly and do not shed this right at the schoolhouse door.
In 2015, when the news about Coach Joe Kennedy first came across my congressional desk, it was inconceivable to me that a coach was being fired – not for hurting a child or poor performance, but for praying silently after a football game win. I circulated a letter of support on which dozens of members of congress joined and I defended him on the House floor – see brief video below. The Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation joined an amicus brief in support of Coach Kennedy.
Justice Neil Gorsuch said the Supreme Court has made plain that there is no automatic establishment clause violation when a public school or other government entity fails to censor private religious speech.
Becket Law states, “All Kennedy wanted to do was retain his position as head coach while adhering to his faith, a right shared by all Americans.” William Haun, Senior Counsel at Becket, added, “Scrubbing religious expression from the public square, based on nothing more than offense, is as unnatural as it is unconstitutional.”
What’s more, the Court ousted a long-standing form of judicial review called the “Lemon Test.” The Lemon Test is a vague legal standard used by lower courts to determine whether or not a law has the effect of establishing religion – a test repeatedly criticized as overburdening the right to free exercise of religion.
This is an important, far-reaching precedent, and a key victory for Keeping Faith in America.
For Faith and Freedom,
J. Randy Forbes
(Member of Congress 2001-2016)
President and Founder of the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation