'Beyond shameful': Legal experts slam Gorsuch, claiming 'flat-out, knowing lie' in Court's prayer ruling
Many people from legal experts to court watchers to journalists to ordinary Americans on social media are criticizing Justice Neil Gorsuch for his majority opinion in a decision siding with a former high school football coach. That coach sued after the school district ordered him to stop praying after every game at the 50-yard line. Justice Gorsuch’s opinion, as many are noticing, appears to be based on facts that are false. Several are accusing Gorsuch of just plain lying.
Justice Gorsuch claimed the coach’s First Amendment rights were violated, and that he was merely engaging in “quiet personal prayer” as he knelt.
Gorsuch uses the word “quiet” 14 times, as The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman notes.
“Joseph Kennedy lost his job as a high school football coach because he knelt at midfield after games to offer a quiet prayer of thanks,” Justice Gorsuch writes as he begins his majority opinion. “Mr. Kennedy prayed during a period when school employees were free to speak with a friend, call for a reservation at a restaurant, check email, or attend to other personal matters. He offered his prayers quietly while his students were otherwise occupied. Still, the Bremerton School District disciplined him anyway. It did so because it thought anything less could lead a reasonable observer to conclude (mistakenly) that it endorsed Mr. Kennedy’s religious beliefs. That reasoning was misguided.”
“The contested exercise here does not involve leading prayers with the team,” Gorsuch continues (despite photos that appear to suggest otherwise), “the District disciplined Mr. Kennedy only for his decision to persist in praying quietly without his students after three games in October 2015.”
These are the photos of Coach Kennedy that Justice Sonia Sotomayor included in her dissent:
“They aren’t even trying to use reason anymore,” former U.S. Attorney Barb McQuade laments:
And Vox’s Ian Millhiser makes clear what just happened: “The Supreme Court hands the religious right a big victory by lying about the facts of a case.”
Calling the decision “a big victory for the religious right,” Millhiser writes that’s “only because Gorsuch misrepresents the facts of the case.”
On Twitter Millhiser adds that Gorsuch’s own opinion debunks his own opinion:
Don Moynihan, a professor at Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy:
Here’s noted political scientist Norman Ornstein:
Others also felt it necessary to correct the facts in the case:
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