The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 Monday in Kennedy vs. Bremerton School District along ideological lines for Joseph Kennedy, a former part-time assistant football coach.
The court ruled that the coach, who prayed with his players and other students on the field, could legally do so under his First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion, a decision with sweeping implications for the separation of church and state.
Kennedy started coaching at the school in 2008 and initially prayed alone on the 50-yard line at the end of games. Students and players soon joined him and he began giving short talks with religious references.
The decision marks a substantial ruling in the decades-old argument over prayer in public schools. In weighing the religious rights of school officials with the rights of students to not feel pressured to participate in religious practices, the court came down firmly on Kennedy’s side.
Read the full 75-page opinion below.