Landmark’s Statement on Kennedy v. Bremerton School District

June 29, 2022

Kennedy v Bremerton School District
This week, the Supreme Court released its decision in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, with a 6-3 ruling reaffirming the constitutional right to prayer in public. The Court ruled that the religious liberty of high school football coach Joseph Kennedy in Bremerton, Washington, was violated when the school district required that he stop conducting uncoercive personal prayers on the 50-yard line after games. Justice Gorsuch, who authored the opinion of the Court, wrote that the school district had misrepresented the First Amendment’s Establishment and Free Exercise clauses as “warring … where one clause is always sure to prevail,” thereby minimizing the importance of our individual liberties. He invoked the landmark precedent set in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, a case holding that neither teachers nor students “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

Another important aspect of this case is how the majority abandons the “Lemon test” approach to religious liberty found in Lemon v. Kurtzman, a case from 1971. This test examined whether a statute or government action could be seen to have a secular purpose, whether its principal effect was aiding or inhibiting religious practice, and whether it produced excessive government entanglement with religion. If the program failed under any one of these three prongs, it violated the Establishment Clause. Over the years, this framework did a very poor job of helping the justices analyze issues related to the separation of church and state. It has been called “bad law” and “like some ghoul in a late-night horror movie” by Supreme Court conservatives Clarence Thomas and the late Antonin Scalia. Justice Gorsuch seems to be leading the Court into a new era of protecting religious liberty and local traditions from government encroachment. We laud the Court for its efforts to ensure that religious practice is protected and prayer continues to be allowed in public, as the framers intended.




We are truly facing existential threats to our individual rights and liberties, the Constitution, and our national character. If unchallenged, this assault on our very way of life will ruin our great nation. With your financial and moral support, Landmark is not going to let that happen without a fight. Will you join us?