Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Originalism and the football coach’s prayer

Andrew Koppelman

Amid the recent Supreme Court argument over a high school football coach’s demand to lead his players in prayer, the judges lost sight of one of the central purposes of the First Amendment’s prohibition on “establishment of religion” – a purpose that should be of particular concern to the Court’s self-styled originalists.

The justices’ questions focused on the importance of avoiding religious conflict and coercion or alienation of religious minorities.  The framers of the Constitution, however, had another fear that is often overlooked:  the idea that state involvement can corrupt religion by turning it into a  hypocritical sham.  That danger now looms.  Will the Court even notice?

I elaborate in a new column at The Hill, here.

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