The issue, as Judge Elena Kagan said, was about “coercion.” As she pointed out, a football coach wields tremendous power in a high school setting. He can decide which student-athletes will start or play at all; it can recommend (or refuse to recommend) students for scholarships and jobs. If a coach with that kind of power holds “voluntary” prayer sessions after games, are the prayers really voluntary or a form of coercion?
During Monday’s closing argument, the school board’s attorney said a post-game prayer should meet the same fate. But Paul Clement, the coach’s attorney, said the prayer in the Texas case was done over a loudspeaker and was therefore more intrusive. More bluntly, Clement suggested that the Texas case was obsolete under current court precedents and should be overturned.
The end point of this Conservative offensive is now in sight. At one level, it would be a voucher system for all primary and secondary education – where public funds would go to schools chosen by parents and children, whether public, private or parochial. And for the public schools that remain, the obligatory prayers, banned for so long, would make a comeback.