Sports law expert available to comment on SCOTUS decision on football coach who sought on-field prayer worship

Nellie Drew sits in a chair in a law office.

Helen A. "Nellie" Drew

Release Date: June 27, 2022

“SCOTUS continues to run amok on the field of precedent. ”
Helen A. "Nellie" Drew, director
UB Center for the Advancement of Sport

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Helen A. “Nellie” Drew, director of the Center for the Advancement of Sport and professor of practice at University at Buffalo School Law School, offered the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s decision Monday that sided with a football coach from Washington state who sought to kneel and pray on the field after games.

“Today's ruling by the Supreme Court in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District is not surprising, given the current composition of the court. While it is settled law that students and, to some extent, faculty ‘do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of expression at the schoolhouse door,’ the facts of this case are very distinct from those in that case, Tinker v. Des Moines,  which involved students wearing black armbands to protest the Vietnam War. In this case, the football coach staged a very public prayer with a large group on the field for media consumption. The circumstances and progression of the event do not suggest that coach Kennedy was simply taking a moment of private time to observe a ritual of faith. Rather, he was creating a spectacle that by definition, given his position of authority, could be perceived by his student athletes as compelling collaboration,” said Drew.

Drew added “SCOTUS continues to run amok on the field of precedent.”

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