Well, the opinion is available for anyone to read.
I find the idea of "offering" (as the majority opinion puts it) prayer to God about playing football well exceedingly silly, myself. As if the God of the universe would care about football games and their outcome, or be inclined to grant prayers that relate to the performance of football players and teams. But I know that people think God listens and responds to such prayers.
But what concerns me about this decision and others is the tendency to ignore information readily available, and even mischaracterize circumstances relevant to a case, in pursuit of a particular outcome. Alas, we lawyers are known to do just that, as advocates. But judges shouldn't be advocates.
I've been a lawyer a long time and I recognize the technique.
The majority and the dissent appear to be considering very different cases. Submitted for your consideration--
From the majority opinion:
"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."
"He offered his prayers quietly while his students were otherwise occupied."
"Mr. Kennedy offered his prayers after the players and coaches had shaken hands, by taking
a knee at the 50-yard line and praying “quiet[ly]” for “approximately 30 seconds.” I
"Eventually, Mr. Kennedy began incorporating short motivational speeches with his
prayer when others were present."
"Naturally, Mr. Kennedy’s proposal to pray quietly by
himself on the field would have meant some people would
have seen his religious exercise."
From the dissent:
"Kennedy’s practice evolved into postgame talks in which Kennedy would hold aloft student
helmets and deliver speeches with “overtly religious references,” which Kennedy described as prayers, while the players kneeled around him."
"After the game, while the athletic director watched, Kennedy led a prayer out loud, holding up a
player’s helmet as the players kneeled around him."
Before the homecoming game, Kennedy made multiple media appearances to publicize his plans to pray at the 50-yard line, leading to an article in the Seattle News and a
local television broadcast about the upcoming homecoming game. In the wake of this media coverage, the District began receiving a large number of emails, letters, and calls, many of them threatening."
"On October 16, after playing of the game had concluded, Kennedy shook hands with the opposing team, and as advertised, knelt to pray while most BHS players were singing the school’s fight song. He quickly was joined by coaches and players from the opposing team. Television
news cameras surrounded the group.2 Members of the public rushed the field to join Kennedy, jumping fences to access the field and knocking over student band members. After the game, the District received calls from Satanists who “‘intended to conduct ceremonies on the field after football games if others were allowed to.’”
Mr. Kennedy is apparently something of a publicity hound. There are pictures of him kneeling and, presumably "offering" prayer in front of the Supreme Court building as well.
I'm ashamed to admit I find the thought of Satan worshippers "offering" prayers to Lucifer on the field after a high school game is played a bit beguiling.
Anyone who has seen the many pictures of these displays would, I think, hesitate to characterize them as "private prayers." I'm amazed that accomplished lawyers (and I'm willing to assume, arguendo
as we like to say, that the Justices are just that, though it seems like Justice Barret never practiced law beyond a few years at a private firm) would be so clumsy in employing this kind of argument.