The Supreme Court sided Monday with a high school football coach from Washington state who sought to kneel and pray on the field after games, a decision that could strengthen the acceptability of some religious practices in other public school settings.
The court ruled 6-3 for the coach with the court’s conservative justices in the majority and its liberals in dissent. The justices said the coach’s prayer was protected by the First Amendment.
“The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the majority.
The case forced the justices to wrestle with how to balance the religious and free speech rights of teachers and coaches with the rights of students not to feel pressured into participating in religious practices.
The decision is the latest in a line of Supreme Court rulings for religious plaintiffs. In another recent example, the court ruled this month that Maine can’t exclude religious schools from a program that offers tuition aid for private education, a decision that could ease religious organizations’ access to taxpayer money.
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