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Analysis: How the Supreme Court is tearing down the separation of church and state

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The March 6 ruling against a Washington state school district that suspended coach Joseph Kennedy reinforces a modern court model that favors religious conservatives and a greater blend of church and state. state.

Overall, this decision reflects the view of the conservative majority that the voices of religious believers are being muffled. Justice Neil Gorsuch, early in giving his opinion to the court, raised concerns about “censorship and repression.” Besieged religious fears have also surfaced in previous decisions and in some judges’ speeches off the bench.

Monday’s ruling threatens a series of decisions dating back to 1962 banning officially sponsored school prayer. The ruling also comes less than a week after a similarly divided 6-3 court ruled that states that subsidize private education must include religious schools.

In both cases, the majority focused on the First Amendment’s “freedom of practice” guarantee and minimized the government’s prohibition on “establishing religion”.

A majority of the courts set aside the Bremerton School District’s assertion that allowing Kennedy to pray on the 50-yard line would lead observers to think that the district was unacceptably endorsing religion or allowing members of the public to pray. Student athletes are forced.

The court eliminated the traditional “confirmation” test altogether and at the same time downplayed the possibility of coercing students.

The decision to spread word of mouth will undoubtedly pose more challenges to religious adherents and will likely increase religious display in schools and other public places.

Gorsuch writes: “Respect for religious expressions is integral to life in a free and diverse Republic—whether those expressions take place in sanctuary or in the field, and whether they are expressed in words or by bowing. “Here, a government organization sought to punish an individual for engaging in a brief, quiet personal religious activity, doubly protected by the Freedom of Speech and Free Exercise Clause. by the First Amendment.”

The gap between this court’s right and left on religious cases has only deepened since 2020, when Justice Amy Coney Barrett succeeded the late Liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Last week’s decision in a Maine case to require more public funding for religious schools, written by Chief Justice John Robertsextending previous rulings that required public funds to be directed to church schools.

When Roberts similarly rejected the state practice of excluding religious schools from the funding program, he similarly emphasized the benefit of free exercise over those establishment concerns.

“The state pays tuition for some students at private schools – as long as those schools are not religious. That is discrimination against religion,” he wrote. “The anti-establishment interest of the State does not justify enactments that exclude certain members of the community from a public interest normally available as a result of their religious practice.”

In addition, courts have increasingly granted employers religious exemptions from the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate and allowed Christians to pray before their legislative meetings. local government.

Monday’s decision in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District takes another leap in that direction, increasing religious activism.

Gorsuch said the football coach acted as a private person, not a school employee, when he prayed after the game. More importantly for future cases, a majority of Gorsuch argues that judges should avoid any investigation into whether a government may unacceptably endorse religion.

Instead, he said, judges should look at “historical practice” and focus on the original meaning of the Constitution’s founding clause.

Dissenting judges objected that the majority’s approach undermined the separation of church and state. They said the prayer led by any school official “attacks the core of our constitutional protections for the religious freedom of our students and their parents.” With Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor in the lead, dissidents said the majority misinterpreted the facts of the case and failed to assess the extent to which the students could change their behavior to win. Get a coach’s approval, such as for more on-court time or a letter of recommendation. .

To illustrate that Kennedy’s behavior was far from quiet and solitary, they included in their comments photographs of Kennedy surrounded by kneeling players.

Dissidents, joined by Liberal Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, say the majority ruling would dilute religious freedom protections and decades ago banned prayer because sponsored school.

John Roberts played a long game about state funding for religious schools
Since 1962 Engel sues Vitale dissidents noted. Most recently in 2000, judges invalidated a public school practice that allowed students to take the lead in prayer over loudspeakers.

Now, they conclude, the court is charting “another path,” one in favor of religious practice.

“This decision is detrimental to the schools and young citizens they serve, as well as our Nation’s longstanding commitment to the separation of church and state,” Sotomayor said.

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Teja
Teja
I am passionate about journalism and using new technology to spread news. I am also interested in politics and economics, and I am always looking for ways to make a difference in the world. I am the CEO of Janaseva News, and I am 24 years old.

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