Saturday, October 06, 2007

3rd Circuit Hears Arguments On High School Coach Joining Players In Prayer

On Wednesday, the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Borden v. School District of East Brunswick in which a New Jersey high school is appealing a district court’s ruling that football coach Marcus Borden can participate in student-initiated non-sectarian pre-game prayers offered by football team players. (See prior postings, 1, 2, and full transcript of district court's ruling from the bench.). The AP reports that at oral argument, Judge Theodore A. McKee voiced concern over the rights of players and cheerleaders who did not wish to join in prayer, while Judge Maryanne Trump Barry questioned how the school could enforce a ban on Borden’s bowing his head while his team members prayed. She asked “Are you going to walk around with a ruler?” and “What if he has his head bowed but he says he's not praying?" An article in the Legal Intelligencer reviews the arguments made in the briefs for each side and in the three amicus briefs that were filed. [Thanks to Jack Shattuck for the lead.]