Local school responds to SCOTUS ruling in prayer case

Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 10:15 PM CDT
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BALTIC, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Prayer in public schools has been a heavily debated topic in America for years now.

Today the Supreme Court ruled on a case that could give more religious freedom to school employees across the state.

Joe Kennedy is a former Washington State football coach, who began to pray in solidarity on the football fields after games.

Players soon joined him on the field and questions arose about whether this was a violation of the separation of church and state.

Kennedy lost his job and soon began a six-year fight to get his job back and rights to pray after games.

Today the court ruled in favor of Kennedy and his lawyer says it came down to the First Amendment.

“Free speech and free exercise are both protected under the First Amendment and whether that’s a teacher bowing their head over their meal or whether that coach going 15 to 20 seconds after the game and saying a prayer. You have the right to do that,’ said Kelly Shackleford, attorney.

He explained why this became a major case in the supreme court.

“His case ended up being bigger because it protected so many people. Really broad opinion that I think is going to provide a lot of protections for a lot of Americans under the First Amendment,” said Shackleford.

Baltic School District’s superintendent, Bob Sittig says the ruling makes guidelines clearer.

“It makes it a little bit easier as to what staff members can and can’t do. It may open the door a little bit more of it. I think it still comes down to whether students, they can’t be required to do it,” said Baltic School District’s superintendent, Bob Sittig.

In regards to the upcoming school year, he’s not sure how the law will have an impact.

“It’s a very fine line. So, in some ways it probably makes it clearer and others maybe not,” said Sittig.

Sittig hopes to get more direction on the ruling as the school year approaches.

“Hopefully, we’ll be getting more guidance on this because the Supreme Court just ruled recently. So hopefully we will learn more in the future and that we’ll make it clearer,” said Sittig.

As a result of the ruling, Kennedy will be able to practice his religion more freely and will return to his position as coach for the high school this coming fall.

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