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Alongside abortion, do not neglect the Supreme Court docket’s huge college prayer ruling — GetReligion

Vastly overshadowed by the uproar over Politico‘s bombshell report that the Supreme Court docket could also be poised to overturn previous abortion rulings, the court docket truly launched religious-liberty ruling written by retiring Justice Stephen Breyer. His Shurtleff v. Metropolis of Boston opinion (.pdf here) reasoned that since Boston had permitted 284 metropolis corridor flag shows by assorted teams, it violated freedom of speech to forbid a Christian flag for concern of violating church-state separation.

Harvard Divinity pupil Hannah Santos, writing for People United, mentioned Christian flag shows can be “disturbing and demoralizing” and evoke the Puritan founders’ “merciless” intolerance. However Breyer and the opposite two liberal justices joined six conservatives on this unanimous — repeat unanimous — determination.

There’s more likely to be much less Court docket harmony on one other First Modification ruling reporters want to arrange for in coming weeks. This dispute crisply demonstrates the culture-war cut up amongst American non secular teams and between most Democrats and Republicans.

Kennedy v, Bremerton College District [Docket #21-418] entails the firing of Joseph Kennedy, an assistant highschool soccer coach in Washington state. He violated the college’s order towards his kneeling to utter transient prayers on the 50-yard line after video games, with college students who wished becoming a member of him.

Right here, too, Kennedy’s freedoms of speech and faith ran up towards college fears about violating the Structure’s clause barring authorities “institution of faith.” Click here for a recent Julia Duin post taking a look at a number of the media protection of this debate.

In making ready protection to interpret the forthcoming ruling, bear in mind doable ramifications past the gridiron. As Christianity Today reported, hypothetical conditions the justices mentioned through the two-hour oral argument included lecturers or coaches praying silently or aloud or studying the Bible earlier than class, coaches praying on the sidelines maybe with particular discover that college students weren’t required to wish or that they can’t pray or a participant merely making the signal of the cross. 

Additionally this. A court docket submitting from the Jewish Coalition for Non secular Liberty and the Islam staff on the Non secular Freedom Institute knowledgeable the justices that observant Jewish lecturers and coaches want to talk transient public blessings earlier than consuming or consuming, and that Muslims should be part of each day prayer occasions throughout public college hours or whereas chaperoning a discipline journey.

Kennedy’s supporters say he did not violate the Court docket’s “endorsement” of faith, “coercion” or “neutrality” assessments. This aspect consists of the predictable Catholic bishops, Southern Baptists and different evangelicals and a bunch of cultural conservatives.

Paul Clement, solicitor basic and appearing legal professional basic underneath President George W. Bush, argued the case for Kennedy. Republicans submitting briefs included Invoice Barr and 4 different former U.S. attorneys basic, 27 of the 50 states, 12 U.S. Senators and 14 U.S. Home members versus, amongst Democrats, 13 states plus D.C. and 11 U.S. Home members backing the college’s motion.

Non secular hesitancy about college prayer is typified by a short from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, United Church of Christ, Baptist Joint Committee for Non secular Liberty and American Jewish Committee. It was ready by regulation professors Douglas Laycock of the College of Virginia, identified for critically weighing non secular freedom claims, and Christopher Lund of Wayne State College.

For these teams, Kennedy was not appearing in a personal capability however as a “authorities worker” with entry to the 50-yard line who used his standing to “compel, strain, persuade, or affect his college students to interact in non secular exercise.” That is mentioned to be “at odds with a long time of settled case regulation, govt department steering” and federal laws. An analogous stance is upheld by the Nationwide Council of Church buildings (which incorporates 37 “mainline” Protestant, Jap Orthodox and different denominations), Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalists and others.

Over time the excessive Court docket has banned official prayers in lecture rooms, graduations and soccer video games, and even outlawed moments of silence for private prayer or reflection. This is a good Pew Research Center backgrounder for these new to the public college authorized debates.

Contacts for Laycock: 512-656-1789 and dlaycock@virginia.edu. For Lund: 313-577-3933 and lund@wayne.edu. The Southern Baptist Conference leaders et al. are represented by Frederick W. Claybrook, Jr. (202-250-3833 and rick@claybrooklaw.com). The Catholic bishops are represented by the Becket Fund’s Lori Windham (202-955-0095, lwindham@becketlaw.org). 

FIRST IMAGE: Uncredited illustration with Becket law feature on the Kennedy case.

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