June 27, 2022

SOME PRETTY CHOOSY COERCION CONCERNS FROM SOTOMAYOR’S DISSENT IN FOOTBALL COACH PRAYER CASE

Second, schools face a higher risk of unconstitutionally “coerc[ing] . . . support or participat[ion] in religion or its exercise” than other government entities. The State “exerts great authority and coercive power” in schools as a general matter “through mandatory attendance requirements.” Moreover, the State exercises that great authority over children, who are uniquely susceptible to “subtle coercive pressure.” Lee, 505 U. S., at 588; cf. Town of Greece v. Galloway, 572 U. S. 565, 590 (2014) (plurality opinion) (“[M]ature adults,” unlike children, may not be “‘readily susceptible to religious indoctrination or peer pressure’”). Children are particularly vulnerable to coercion because of their “emulation of  teachers as role models” and “susceptibility to peer pressure.” Accordingly, this Court has emphasized that “the State may not, consistent with the Establishment Clause, place primary and secondary school children” in the dilemma of choosing between “participating, with all that implies, or protesting” a religious exercise in a public school.”

(PDF page 55; most cites removed for readability.) Great. Can we apply this to the endless, relentless pressure on K-12 public school kids to adopt and parrot state-established views on issues race, sex, LGBTQ issues, etc.? Oh, wait, those views aren’t “religious,” so publicly funded propaganda on that is OK, but a football coach offering optional prayers on the field is not. Got it.

Does anyone actually find this reasoning convincing, as opposed to convenient?

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