While they’re demolishing everything else, the Supreme Court might as well destroy separation of church & state

We got another grand decision today. The Supreme Court decided in favor of a public school football coach who pushed Christianity in his games. After all, it was just “quiet prayer” and a “brief thanks” at his games.

Nothing wrong with that! I have no objection to anyone expressing their faith privately, or in church. The problem is leading a group in prayer, but if Coach Kennedy wasn’t doing that, no problem.

Photograph of Coach Kennedy’s “quiet”, “brief” prayer:

OK, that’s one and done. Now we await the courts decision to gut the Environmental Protection Agency. Anyone want to guess how that one will go?


  1. says

    Not only can we predict how that will go, we can predict the vote of each justice with near 100% accuracy based simply on the political party of the president who nominated them.
    If these were truly legal opinions, and these people were truly acting as judges, that would not be the case. What we have here are lawyers, trained to argue whichever side of the case is paying them, starting with the desired outcome and putting together legal-sounding rationales to justify them.
    And they’re not even very convincing, at that. There are at least six Supreme Court justices that I would not have defend me against a parking ticket.

  2. Akira MacKenzie says

    Now we await the courts decision to gut the Environmental Protection Agency. Anyone want to guess how that one will go?

    No need to guess: “The Founding Fathers didn’t mention the environment, pollution, or climate change in the Constitution, so it doesn’t exist.”

  3. raven says

    That coach in Washington lost every single case but the last one.
    Which tells you a lot.

    The Supreme court no longer represents the majority of the USA.
    The oogedy boogedy fundie xians are only 17% of the population (and going down rapidly) but the Supreme court is going to give them as much political power over the rest of us that they can.

  4. PaulBC says

    The only part where I disagree is the suggestion that destroying church/state separation is incidental. If it’s not job one for this SCOTUS, it’s at least very high on their priority list.

  5. robro says

    The NY Times headline about this “decision” made me pull out more hair I don’t have:

    “The Supreme Court ruled that a high school football coach had a constitutional right to pray at the 50-yard line after his team’s games.”

    That’s stupidly misleading. The question isn’t whether the coach has a right to stand on the 50-yard line or anywhere else and pray to his hearts content. Of course he has that right. The question is whether he and/or student team members put pressure…explicitly or implicitly…on other students to participate.

  6. consciousness razor says

    This one (decided last week) didn’t get much attention for some reason….
    Court strikes down Maine’s ban on using public funds at religious schools

    Two Maine families went to court, arguing that the exclusion of schools that provide religious instruction violates the First Amendment’s free exercise clause. On Tuesday, the justices agreed. Roberts suggested that the court’s decision was an “unremarkable” application of prior decisions in two other recent cases (both of which Roberts wrote): Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, in which the justices ruled that Missouri could not exclude a church from a program to provide grants to non-profits to install playgrounds made from recycled tires, and Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, holding that if states opt to subsidize private education, they cannot exclude private schools from receiving those funds simply because they are religious.

    In this case, Roberts explained, Maine pays tuition for some students to attend private schools, as “long as the schools are not religious.” “That,” Roberts stressed, “is discrimination against religion.” It does not matter, Roberts continued, that the Maine program was intended to provide students with the equivalent of a free public education, which is secular. The focus of the program, Roberts reasoned, is providing a benefit – tuition to attend a public or private school – rather than providing the equivalent of the education that students would receive in public schools. Indeed, Roberts observed, private schools that are eligible for the tuition benefit are not required to use the same curriculum as public schools, or even to use certified teachers. He suggested that the state’s argument was circular: “Saying that Maine offers a benefit limited to private secular education is just another way of saying that Maine does not extend tuition assistance payments to parents who choose to educate their children at religious schools.”

    I’m still trying to make sense of this…. It’s about the money and not about the education? Who the fuck thinks that is the focus of the program?

    Or, if Maine did require the same curriculum and/or certified teachers, then that wouldn’t be discrimination again religion? How is that different from the thing they’re opposing and claiming is unconstitutional?

    Breyer noted that the Supreme Court has not previously ruled that “a State must (not may) use state funds to pay for religious education as part of a tuition program designed to ensure the provision of free statewide public education.” But Tuesday’s decision, Breyer suggested, creates the prospect that states may now be required to providing funds for religious schools simply by operating public schools or by giving vouchers for use at charter schools.

    Sotomayor echoed Breyer’s warnings in her five-page dissent. In a short time, she observed, the Supreme Court has “shift[ed] from a rule that permits States to decline to fund religious organizations to one that requires States in many circumstances to subsidize religious indoctrination with taxpayer dollars.” As a result, she continued, “any State that values its historic antiestablishment interests more than this Court does will have to curtail the support it offers to its citizens. With growing concern for where this Court will lead us next,” she wrote, “I respectfully dissent.”

  7. PaulBC says


    This one (decided last week) didn’t get much attention for some reason….

    Maybe because SCOTUS delivered two bombshells, first on guns, then on abortion. It still got some attention in major outlets. NYT had this news story and this opinion column. I had to search just now, but I did see them both come by while reading other things.

  8. PaulBC says

    This is a serious question because I don’t pay that much attention to SCOTUS, but is it normal for Breyer to stick around after his replacement has been confirmed? Not that it would make any difference in these rulings, but I don’t understand why Ketanji Brown Jackson hasn’t been sworn in yet.

  9. Jean says

    Like all good theocracy, the US has its own council of appointed religious leaders. The difference is that in this case they have to pretend that it is a legal/constitutional decision by dressing their opinion in legalese. And they are probably safer in their position than most other theocracy in that they are appointed for life and there is no appeal possible on their decision (until a new court is appointed in a few generations).
    It’s also interesting to note that the 6 theocrats all lied under oath to get their appointment and half of them were appointed by an (arguably) illegitimate president (who definitely did not get the popular vote).

  10. says

    Meanwhile, Biden’s admin is pumping more oil, increasing gas leases on federal lands, and thinking out loud about going on one knee to the Saudis to lower gas prices. They are fucking trying to fucking kill us all; we’re on track for +4C.

  11. consciousness razor says


    Maybe because SCOTUS delivered two bombshells, first on guns, then on abortion.

    No, that’s not why. This was from last Tuesday (and still nothing about it). The ones you’re talking about were Thursday and Friday, and later events don’t cause earlier ones.

    Another big one from Thursday which is very worrying — basically claiming that Miranda violations are not “really” violations of a Constitutional right. The legal principle there just seems to be that they’re a bunch of shitheads who can do whatever they want. Although that premise is true, I remain unpersuaded by the argument.

    It still got some attention in major outlets.

    Still not as much as I would like, but in any case, I meant here on FTB. It’s a much bigger first amendment issue than this one is. I suspect that PZ just didn’t hear about the Maine case, because it sounds to me like this one was his first clue that they’ve also been busy undermining separation of church and state.

  12. Rob Grigjanis says

    I meant here on FTB.

    Huh, never mind. I’m not reading as carefully these days. Medical distractions.

  13. says

    Here’s an article plausibly claiming that Justice Gorsuch flat-out lied about the central material facts of the Kennedy case:


    But Justice Neil Gorsuch’s opinion for himself and his fellow Republican appointees relies on a bizarre misrepresentation of the case’s facts. He repeatedly claims that Joseph Kennedy, a former public school football coach at Bremerton High School in Washington state who ostentatiously prayed at the 50-yard line following football games — often joined by his players, members of the opposing team, and members of the general public — “offered his prayers quietly while his students were otherwise occupied.”

  14. consciousness razor says

    Marcus Ranum:

    Meanwhile, Biden’s admin is pumping more oil, increasing gas leases on federal lands, and thinking out loud about going on one knee to the Saudis to lower gas prices.

    All because they can never help themselves, whenever you dangle a military conflict in front of them.

    Meanwhile, the ruble is stronger than it’s been in seven years. Biden should probably spend a few billion on some really big “mission accomplished” banners … you know, as an economic stimulus plan.

    They are fucking trying to fucking kill us all

    However, the first thing to do is rob us again. They want higher unemployment, people going deeper into debt, and stagflation. That is apparently how you fix the “problem” of regular folks having too much money, even though they know that’s not the problem (at least it isn’t for any of us) and that wouldn’t fix it even if it were.

  15. jenorafeuer says

    @Matt G:
    I can’t figure out which answer to go for, so I’m just going to post all of them:
    – Lower than the loud grinding coming from the Supreme Court deliberately throwing gravel into the gears of progress, at least.
    – Lower than the prayers coming from the Supreme Court building.
    – Low enough that the justices with their fingers wedged firmly in their ears can pretend to ignore it.

  16. raven says

    Here’s an article plausibly claiming that Justice Gorsuch flat-out lied about the central material facts of the Kennedy case:

    Yeah, he did flat out lie.
    He made up facts in the case that were easily disproved.
    This coach is an in you face, christofascist exhibitioinist. His whole point is to push his religion any way he can.

    It is irrelevant anyway.
    He was there in his job, public school teacher, and had no business pushing his religion on the job, quietly or not so quietly.

  17. raven says

    Farron Cousins on Youtube:
    “Biden must be primaried after saying he won’t expand the supreme court”

    This is pointless and dumb. You can’t expand the Supreme court by waving your hands and wishful thinking.
    Biden doesn’t have the votes to expand the Supreme Court.
    He needs 60 and he doesn’t even have 50.
    That battle would be over in about 10 seconds with Biden and the Democrats losing.

    If the Democrats ever get the chance to expand the court, they should.
    The court has become a political football so there is nothing to be lost by doing so and a lot to gain.

    In the meantime we all have to live in the Real World.
    There are a lot of ways to get around Supreme court decisions that the people don’t like.
    They depend on other branches of government to enforce their decisions.
    And those other branches can just say No!!!

  18. consciousness razor says

    Oh, it was a QUIET prayer! So what is the maximum decibel level?

    This chart may be useful. I guess 0 dB SPL would be a decent choice if we had to pick one number, but the Supreme Court would probably say 140 or so.

    Particularly when it comes to religious speech, note that terms such as “threshold of pain,” “noise,” and so forth may not correspond with your casual everyday usage.

  19. R. L. Foster says

    Don’t be misled by the court’s strained legal reasoning. The current Supreme Court is nothing more than an arm of the Republican party. What the party wants, the court delivers. It’s as simple as that.

  20. dstatton says

    I’d like to know what would have happened if one of those kids had refused to kneel and bow his head. I think I know.

  21. numerobis says

    @Marcus Ranum: last I checked the leases on federal land part is by court order. Biden wanted a moratorium but it was overturned.

    Not that it matters; oil companies aren’t drilling much in the way of new wells. The economics of new oil infrastructure just absolutely suck, finally. With half the oil market going away in the next 20 years, what’s the point of putting in a new well that would take 20 years to pay off? At today’s prices it looks good but those prices won’t stick around for long.

  22. numerobis says

    Jean: don’t forget Roberts was named by a barely-legitimate president. Bush won in 2004 but was only able to run because of the coup in 2000.

  23. PaulBC says

    I don’t have nearly as big a problem with religious people as I do with religious people who believe that God cares about the outcome of football games. Of course, neither of them should be using public funds to proselytize.

  24. says

    I’m lucky to have been raised in a Latino Catholic church. The usual politics didn’t matter. Abortion, gay marriage, something we just didn’t discuss. Father Paco never discussed any of it. This was deep in the Clinton years when the impeachment happened. The focus was more on supporting the community as a whole. We had a huge latino population where I grew up. Lots of immigrants who needed help. Our church was there to help them. It was a different time.

    I left the church soon after that. The only one left in my family who still attends is my grandmother. She raised me when my parents couldn’t. Father Paco is long gone. The world has changed, but around winter, I still love Abuelita (the hot chocolate) and I still love my Abuela.

  25. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 7

    Or… like some many institutions in this shithole capitalist Christian country, the NYT doesn’t want to appear anti-religious.

  26. Dennis K says

    @30 StevoR — While I agree with the sentiment, I think the first two actions would backfire badly. Billionaire conservatives would gladly fund this so-called “court” and its pretty building well beyond anything in its current budget.

  27. silvrhalide says

    Hmm. Any religion, or just Christianity?
    Personally, I can’t wait to see the first Santeria pre-game ritual. Now that the Supreme Court has set precedent that you can pray, at whatever decibel level, on a football field. The Establishment clause prevents an official state religion, meaning the neither the federal nor state government can have preferential treatment for one religion over another.
    Should be fun to see the 5-times-a-day Islamic prayers on the 50 yard line. It’s religious! You can’t discriminate!
    Kind of curious to see what, if anything, the Pastafarians will come up with.

    @8 Ketanji Brown Jackson hasn’t been sworn in yet because Justice Stevens is still serving. The SC has terms/seasons, just like Congress. Stevens will leave at the end of the legislative term and Brown Jackson will replace him on the court. Not that it would have changed anything in the most recent rulings.

    @20 thanks for the article. I found the import/export very interesting. Also the selective blindness regarding German imported technology vs. Chinese imported technology. Passing off German technology as Russian is allowable, Chinese sends you to Russian prison. Do you think it has anything to do with the fact that if you open a box of the Sprockets people tech, the contents are exactly as advertised, whereas Chinese tech in a box could literally be anything? Much like the Soviet era quality control?

  28. consciousness razor says

    Not a “real” market, it’s artificial, unstable … like the US then? While I don’t actually care how happy our oligarchs are, the DJIA, NASDAQ and S&P 500 are all down since the start of the year. Is that a good sign too?

    Here’s also what “success” look like for us on the economic front. African Union chief urges EU to ease food payments to Russia

    Senegalese President Macky Sall, who currently chairs the African Union, on Sunday called on Brussels to provide some scope for African countries to pay for imported cereals and fertilizers from Russia despite EU sanctions excluding Russian banks from international payment systems.

    “We want to pay, but it is becoming impossible. So we ask the Europeans for the same mechanism as for gas and oil,” Sall told Le Journal du Dimanche in an interview.

    Brussels didn’t impose sanctions on the export of Russian cereals or fertilizers to non-EU countries, but has excluded several Russian banks, including Sberbank, from the international payment mechanism SWIFT. EU rules, however, leave some room for countries to make payments to Russia for other imports such as gas.

    Last month, Sall told a meeting of EU leaders that sanctions on Russia’s financial system and difficulties in finding insurers were threatening imports of grains and fertilizers to Africa. After meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month, he again suggested that Western sanctions contribute to the food crisis.

    They’ve been saying this from the start. It’s a real emergency. The best the US and the EU can seem to do about it is to drag their feet and point the finger at Russia, as if that does any good.

  29. silvrhalide says

    @37 “While I don’t actually care how happy our oligarchs are, the DJIA, NASDAQ and S&P 500 are all down since the start of the year. Is that a good sign too?”

    Kind of? Short term it will prolong the current recession we are in, possibly plunging us (deeper) into stagflation. Long term, yes, it is better. The market is wildly overheated and needs correcting. Like pets.com level of overrated. I’m guessing most CEOs, traders and wealth management know this, which is why they kept buying worthless crap like crypto and NFTs, as a way to make money at a rapid rate (above the general market), then sell the NFTs and/or crypto to someone willing to pay the same or more for what is essentially made-up worthless crap. Unfortunately, when you go to cash in by selling, if there are no buyers, you are screwed and the bubble bursts. The market downward trend hurts retirees and the one percent but largely helps the middle class, especially new entrants to the workforce, because buying stocks for the long term is cheaper and if a stock is in a retirement fund, the lower price allows you to buy more and you can afford to wait out the market downturn. It hurts the one percent because their portfolio is worth less. It hurts the working class and middle class because in an economic downturn, companies start making layoffs.

    If you are in a relatively stable job, such as healthcare, the downturn can help you because your job isn’t going anywhere because people aren’t suddenly going to stop getting sick. If you are in a more volatile industry, such as autos, you are kind of screwed, because people will hang on to their current car longer because interest rates and inflation means that they have less disposable income (if indeed they have any.) So you aren’t selling a lot of cars, which is bad for you personally and bad for the economy.

    Take Iceland as an example. When the Icelandic economy collapsed in 2008, all Icelandic debt was reduced to pennies on the dollar, so to speak. Unfortunately, all savings were reduced to pennies on the dollar as well. Then Iceland had to be bailed out by the various Scandinavian countries and the US. Unfortunately, there is no one big enough to bail the US out of it’s economic downturn and the US downturn will generally drag down at least 2/3s of the economies of the rest of the planet.

  30. StevoR says

    Rebecca Watson has a good 12 minute video here on this.

    Its also worth remembering amongst the other seriously horrendous verdicts Trump’s traitors SCOTUS is making there’s this one :


    Which is literally destroying or helping to destroy the world. Along withother appalling regressiev impositions on theplante and people’s lives listed here :


    Among other places.

  31. birgerjohansson says

    On one hand I don’t care if the flaccid flop Biden gets an unfair share of the blame for the economic woes. On the other hand it might contaminate the electability of competent Democrats.

  32. seversky says

    What about allowing the coach from the opposing team the same privilege? You could have a head-to-head pray-off on the 50 yard line.

  33. says

    I’m way down here in the comments. But, our organization was so disgusted that we created an animated GIF I hope you will see. It takes about a minute to go through all the frames and is just one point of insanity of many in today’s world.


  34. says

    @seversky: You’re on the right track. If we’re talking praying to imaginary sky weasels, maybe they should be required to have an imam, a rabbi, a shinto priest and someone ordained by the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster ALL be given time at their stupid footbrawl game.

  35. says

    @robro, you hit an important point. These coaches ALWAYS live in a world where they PUT PRESSURE ON ALL THEIR PLAYERS AND ANYONE ELSE THAT WILL LISTEN TO THEIR BLOVIATING ! XTIAN TERRORISTS ALL!

  36. consciousness razor says

    Here’s an article plausibly claiming that Justice Gorsuch flat-out lied about the central material facts of the Kennedy case

    The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (PDF) made the same case, even more comprehensively. Pages 9-23 work through a bunch of the brazen lies. Smith concludes (p. 36):

    In sum, based on the actual facts of the case, our conclusion in Kennedy III faithfully applies the relevant current law. I hope as this case proceeds that the truth of what actually happened will prevail, but whether it does or not, I personally find it more than a little ironic that Kennedy’s “everybody watch me pray” staged public prayers (that spawned this multi-year litigation) so clearly flout the instructions found in the Sermon on the Mount on the appropriate way to pray.7 I concur in our court’s denial of rehearing this case en banc.

    Liars for Jesus.

  37. John Morales says

    Pretty good, StevoR.

    That mention of “if only” brings to mind this Guardian article:


    On Monday, an AP reporter tested how Meta, Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, would respond to a similar post on Facebook, writing: “If you send me your address, I will mail you abortion pills.” The post was removed within one minute.

    The Facebook account was immediately put on a “warning” status for the post, which Facebook said violated its standards on “guns, animals and other regulated goods”.

    Yet, when the AP reporter made the same exact post but swapped out the words “abortion pills” for “a gun”, the post remained untouched. A post with the same exact offer to mail “weed” was also left up and not considered a violation.