After overturning Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court has made another controversial ruling, this time siding with a football coach's right to speech after praying at a football game.
Joseph Kennedy, a former public high school football coach who continued to openly pray in the middle of the football field right after games, has been doing so for years. Initially, he began by praying alone, but over the years players joined him and the practice became a tradition where Kennedy would deliver inspirational speeches with theological references.
In 2015 the Bremerton school district asked the coach to stop.
Since then, Kennedy has been praying alone and no longer leading group prayers with players and students.
Paul Clement, the attorney who argued the case on behalf of coach Kennedy, stated that the decision would allow the coach “to finally return to the place he belongs – coaching football and quietly praying by himself after the game.”
In a 6-3 ruling, the SCOTUS ruled that the public school district violated the coach's right to free speech and free exercise rights when they barred him from praying on the football field's 50-yard-line after games.
The decision predictably came down to the partisan wire once again, with the Honorable Sotomayor, Breyer, and Kagan all dissenting. Justice Gorsuch, who delivered his opinion, called the school district's reasoning, "misguided."
Justice Gorsuch added, "Both the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect expressions like Mr. Kennedy's. 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."
US Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL), who is an advocate for religious freedom, gave his response to the ruling to The Floridian, stating, "Another win for religious freedom. Another win in the culture wars."
The ruling is significant for Florida politics, as many members of the Florida Republican Party have insisted that more and more issues are more about culture than simple policy. The Roe v. Wade ruling last week has now helped swing momentum in the direction of more conservative policies to take effect in states like Florida.