Decision to allow HS coach to pray during game harkens back to similar case in NJ
The United States Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a Washington state high school football coach who takes a knee on the field after games to pray. It is a lot like a case that caused controversy in New Jersey.
Some are calling the Court’s decision a victory as well for East Brunswick’s Marcus Borden. Borden tried to take his fight 13 years ago to the Supreme Court. But the justices at the time would not hear the case.
Borden was coaching at a New Jersey public school and would lead his team in prayer. But as the case evolved, he backed off the practice and questioned if he was even allowed to kneel and bow his head with players as they said a prayer.
A federal appeals court said no, siding with the East Brunswick School District. District officials said they were concerned that it could be seen as the government endorsing religion.
In Monday’s Supreme Court decision, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote a coach from praying after a game is protected by the First Amendment. In dissent Justice Sonia Sotomayor says it could pressure students into joining those prayers.
So why did the court choose to hear this case and refused to hear Borden’s? Experts say that the Supreme Court is now trending a certain way. Six of the nine justices are seen as conservative, five of which were nominated by former Republican President Donald Trump.
"Or there might not have been four justices who thought this was important enough to hear. or four justices who even though they might have thought it was important thought they would ultimately prevail,” says Perry Dane, of Rutgers Law.
Borden did not wish to speak to News 12 New Jersey on camera about this situation. But he tells News 12 by phone that he was never trying to impose religion on his players, but rather asking for the Lord’s protection as a rite of passage before taking the field.