Tuesday, March 28, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

N.J. Coach Barred From Praying With Players

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - East Brunswick High School football coach Marcus Borden may not participate in team prayer. A three-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit unanimously reversed a ruling that struck down a school policy prohibiting faculty from participating in student-led prayer.

Borden asserted that it was within his First Amendment rights to bow his head or "take a knee" with players as a sign of respect for prayers offered before meals and in the locker room. The district court backed his argument and declared the policy unconstitutional.

But the appeals court overturned that ruling, saying the policy is constitutional but Borden's silent acts are not. The judges ruled that Borden genuflection violated the First Amendment's establishment clause, which prevents the government or its agents from endorsing a specific religion.

"In reversing the district court, we help to ensure the continued vitality of the Establishment Clause as well as the rights of all to worship as they please," Judge Fisher wrote.

Borden is expected to petition the U.S. Supreme Court for a review of the decision.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.