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"Forcing religion on children": AG Healey knocks Supreme Court school prayer ruling

Supreme Court rules for coach in prayer case
Supreme Court rules in favor of high school coach in religious freedom case 24:07

BOSTON -  Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is among those criticizing Monday's Supreme Court ruling that sided with a Washington state high school football coach who lost his job for praying after games.

The court ruled 6-3 in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District that the free exercise and free speech clauses of the First Amendment protect an individual engaging in religious expression. 

"Sports can be a powerful tool for bringing people from all backgrounds together, and kids from diverse religious backgrounds should have the chance to be part of a team without being pressured to pray. The football field is for playing, not for forcing religion on children," Healey said in a statement. "I'm disappointed that the Court failed to recognize that team prayer can be coercive, alienating, and exclusionary for many student-athletes and their families."  

Healey and several other state attorneys general joined an amicus brief that argued coach Joseph Kennedy's prayers on the field were not protected by the First Amendment. 

The court's liberal minority expressed concerns about the government endorsing religion. Supporters of the court's decision called it a "tremendous victory" for religious liberty.

"The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike," Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion. 

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