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The US Supreme Court is expanding religious rights by protecting officials from praying in public

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Former coach Joseph Kennedy kneels in front of the Supreme Court seat on April 25.WIN MCNAMEE (AFP)

The conservative turn of the US Supreme Court is progressing steadily. Following controversial rulings on public use of guns and the one that overturned abortion rights that were released last week, the Supreme Court this Monday settled with the coach of a high school football team, who was charged with knee and knee injuries Prayer was fired in midfield after games. Joseph Kennedy, who served as an assistant coach on the Bremerton, Washington, high school public team between 2008 and 2015, had the constitutional right to pray on the field after games, the Supreme Court ruled by a six-voting affirmative vote (the six conservative justices ) and three against by the three liberals. The trial, which struck down a restrictive gun control law in upstate New York on Thursday, is being repeated and a day later the doctrine Deer vs Wadewhich has protected abortion rights in the country since 1973.

With this ruling, the Supreme Court extends the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech and belief, and gives free rein to public expression of faith by government officials, after decades of contention between the public and private spheres. For eight years, Kennedy would pray after games, often accompanied by players. He also did so in the dressing room, leading the prayer himself, a practice he later abandoned and which he did not assert in the Supreme Court. The reason for Kennedy’s lawsuit was that he had been suspended in 2015 by the education center, which asked him to finish prayers in court for putting on “a show” that attracted the media. Kennedy invited players to join in the prayer, and some parents complained that their children felt obligated to do so, the institute’s statement said.

Kennedy’s lawsuit has become a cause for the mobilization of the most conservative Christians, which was also spurred on by the law’s repeal Deer vs Wade and behind which many see a theocratic agenda fostered for decades and catapulted by Republican Donald Trump’s presidency. The ruling, written by Judge Neil Gorsuch, rejected the institute’s view that Kennedy’s prayers and sermons on the field could pressure other students or constitute state endorsement of a particular religion, in violation of one of the clauses of the First Amendment.

With judgments like this Monday, the Supreme Court is pushing ahead with removing the boundaries between church and state. Just a week ago, the Supreme Court ruled in another blow to conservative tendencies in favor of two Christian families who had denounced discrimination against religious schools in a scholarship program in Maine. As in the Maine case, the judges in the Bremerton Institute case reversed the lower court ruling that derived Kennedy’s suspension for defying orders from the center, which suggested that he pray privately. The coach, a public official, refused.

Gorsuch has written that the “retaliation” against Kennedy “comes from a misconception of the duty to suppress religious practice while allowing a comparable secular discourse. The Constitution neither requires nor tolerates this type of discrimination.”

In recent months, the Supreme Court, former President Trump’s foundational legacy, has agreed to the demands of Christian groups or individuals, in successive turns on the letter of the First Amendment. In May, it ruled that Boston had violated the rights of a religious group by not allowing it to plant a flag bearing the sign of the cross at City Hall, under whose flagpole the group was holding a public event. In March, the Supreme Court ruled in a ruling signed by eight judges and only one dissenting ruling that the state of Texas should grant a request to a death row inmate to have his Christian pastor lay hands on him and pray loudly beside him during the execution .

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