It is difficult to find words that can adequately sound the alarm of the religious liberty threats we face as a nation. We are getting weaker by the moment on the protection of our “first freedom,” and the opposition gets bolder with every half-hearted attempt, whether by courts or opportunistic politicians, to take the middle ground where none exists.
The recent denial of cert. (judicial review) in the case of Coach Kennedy (Kennedy v. Bremerton School District), who was fired for daring to pray privately after high school football games, is a prime example of how anemic we have become. Concerned Women for America (CWA) submitted a brief in support of Coach Kennedy alongside other religious liberty organizations. The reasons the Supreme Court’s conservative majority gave for declining to hear the case are unpersuasive and should be a warning of trouble ahead for us all.
In a disappointing statement by Justice Samuel Alito, who was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh, they try to save face by reminding us that the “denial of certiorari does not signify that the Court necessarily agrees with the decision (much less the opinion) below.”
He is right. It does not mean that. It certainly does not mean they disagree with the decision either, or they would have vacated it. What they say is that, “In this case important unresolved factual questions would make it very difficult if not impossible at this stage to decide the free speech question that the petition asks us to review.”
What are these important “unresolved factual questions”? Well, the statement notes that Coach Kennedy was given two reasons for being fired: (1) that he neglected his responsibility to supervise his players while he was praying, and (2) that his actions would lead a reasonable observer to think the district was endorsing a religion. These reasons were given in writing. There is no factual question about them. Still, the statement of Justices Alito joined by Thomas, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh, claims, “the court should have made a specific finding as to what petitioner was likely to be able to show regarding the reason or reasons for his loss of employment.”
For that reason, they actually concur in the denial. This is mind-boggling. They criticize the district court for converging the two reasons together, but the district court is not wrong. The only reason he was fired is because he was praying. Surely the justices do not think he would be fired if he goes to the restroom after the game, “leaving the kids unsupervised.” Coach Kennedy was fired because he dared say a private prayer in a way that could be seen publicly. He is Daniel praying in his chambers while being seen through the window. And our laws today in the year 2019 in America allow him to be thrown in the lion’s den of unemployment.
The justices’ statement does show some apprehension to this incredible injustice. Alito writes, “While I thus concur in the denial of the present petition, the Ninth Circuit’s understanding of the free speech rights of public-school teachers is troubling and may justify review in the future.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Mario Diaz