Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Coach Prays, Ninth Circuit Says No — Blame Supreme Court Conservatives

In 2006, five justices restricted the free-speech rights of public employees; in 2017, we see the consequences.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that a high-school football coach, Joseph Kennedy, had no First Amendment right to kneel and briefly pray at the 50-yard line after a football game — at least not when he’s wearing school gear and not when parents and students can see what he does. He never asked anyone to join him. He never required any player to pray beside him. He wasn’t skipping out of any mandatory job responsibility. He had no captive audience. Yet, still, the court held that he had no First Amendment right to pray.
Why not?
It would be easy, after decades of watching the Ninth Circuit in action, to ascribe the outcome to classic judicial anti-religious bias. In fact, there was a concurring opinion in the case that absurdly argued that the school district would violate the establishment clause if it allowed its coach to publicly take a knee immediately after the game. (One can only imagine the Founders’ hysterical laughter at the notion.) The true culprit, however, wasn’t the Ninth Circuit. It was the Supreme Court of the United States. No, actually, it was the conservative wing of the court. Yes, that’s right. The conservatives.
In 2006, Justices Kennedy, Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and Scalia voted together in a case called Garcetti v. Ceballos to substantially restrict the free-speech rights of public employees. Formerly, employees of federal, state, and local governments (including public-high-school football coaches) enjoyed freedom to speak on matters of “public concern” so long as their speech didn’t interfere with the government’s “effective and efficient fulfillment of its responsibilities to the public.” The balancing test represented a speech-protective effort to provide the public with the benefits of free speech while still protecting the rights of the employer to manage the workplace.
Read the rest from David French HERE

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1 comment:

cimbri said...

The social conservatives are wrong on this issue. While I personally don't mind if the coach prays, and the group holds hands or whatever (I always went along, no complaints), pretty soon we'll have Mullahs standing in the middle of the field, lighting incense to Muslim coaches while they break out the prayer rug and so on. Let's just keep it secular. If the coach wants to pray, then obviously he can do so quietly to himself. No one is stopping him from praying, and I'm sure God hears us whether or not a prayer is done formally.