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u.s. supreme court

Casper Football Coach Praises SCOTUS Ruling Allowing Prayer On Football Fields

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Photo by Matt Idler.

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Casper football coach who is also a member of the Wyoming House of Representatives on Wednesday praised a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday that allows coaches to pray on the football field.

Rep. Steve Harshman, R-Casper, told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday that the Supreme Court made a good decision and that he felt it reaffirmed the justice system.

“Our system isn’t perfect because it’s man-made, but we did form a more perfect union,” Harshman said. “I think these discussions should keep going. I welcome that. We all have freedom of religion.”

In a ruling written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the court found that a Washington state school district improperly fired a coach for kneeling at midfield after games to offer a quiet prayer of thanks.

The school district argued his behavior could lead to complaints about the district failing to maintain the separation of church and state.

Harshman said he understood the school district officials’ point of view, because teachers and coaches are not trying to indoctrinate students, no matter their faith or lack thereof.

Supreme Court justices found that by trying to “punish an individual for engaging in a personal religious observance,” the district acted in violation of the coach’s constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom to exercise religion and freedom of speech.

Harshman said he believes many football coaches across the country do the same thing with their teams, whether on the field or in the locker room.

As a coach, he holds a moment of silence for his team, allowing them to give thanks or reflect, but he does not ask or require them to pray.

“Some of the guys are praying, there’s no doubt,” he said. “We form this bond and brotherhood, so before and after every game, we just take a moment to give thanks, each in our own way, because we’ve got so much to be thankful for.”

Harshman said he and his team put a hand on each other’s shoulder and bask in the moment of silence right before the chaos of the football game begins.

No matter their background, they are a team both on and off the field while under Harshman’s direction, and that is what matters the most, he said.

According to news outlet The Hill, the Washington football coach began kneeling and praying on the football field after school games in 2008, over time being joined by more and more students. The school district eventually told him to stop.

When the coach defied their orders, officials placed him on administrative leave.

He filed a lawsuit, arguing his rights to free speech and religion were violated by the policy. The school district said the coach led a public demonstration of government-endorsed religion and that students were pressured to pray with the coach because they might risk losing playing time.

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Supreme Court Overturns Roe Vs. Wade, Returns Abortion Regulation To States

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Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

There is no constitutional right to abortion, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday morning in a ruling putting the decision of whether abortions will be allowed in the hands of the states.

In a 6-3 majority opinion, the court overturned the 1973 landmark abortion ruling “Roe vs. Wade,” which declared abortion a constitutional right to be observed in all states.

“The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion … and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives,” said a summary of the ruling.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit challenging a Mississippi law that prohibited abortions from being performed after the 15th week of pregnancy, several weeks before the point at which a fetus is considered viable outside the womb.

A lower court overturned the law as being in violation of Roe vs. Wade and an appeals court upheld that decision.

The challenge to the Mississippi law said it was contrary to the finding of Roe vs. Wade, but the Supreme Court, in the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, said Roe vs. Wade was a flawed ruling to begin with.

“We hold that Roe … must be overruled,” Alito wrote. “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision…”

Alito said Roe vs. Wade’s errors were perpetuated as courts relied on it to make rulings on abortion after 1973.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, in a dissenting opinion, said the majority opinion disregards years of balancing the ability of states to regulate abortions in a way to protect life of a viable fetus with a woman’s right to choose whether to obtain an abortion.

“(The majority) says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of,” the dissent said. “A state can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs.”

The dissenting opinion also argued the majority of the court disregarded the effect its ruling will have on women seeking an abortion who live in states where it is not legal.

“Today’s decision, the majority says, permits ‘each state’ to address abortion as it pleases,” it said. “That is cold comfort, of course, for the poor woman who cannot get the money to fly to a distant state for a procedure. Above all others, women lacking financial resources will suffer from today’s decision.”

Meanwhile, Justice John Roberts, in a specially concurring opinion, chastised the court for overturning Roe vs. Wade when all it had to do was rule on whether Mississippi’s time period for allowing abortions fell within constitutional limits.

“None of this … requires that we also take the dramatic step of altogether eliminating the abortion right first recognized in Roe,” he wrote.

Roberts noted that in its first brief to the Supreme Court, even Mississippi officials said a review of the state’s law would not require the court to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

Roberts said he did not share the certainty about laws surrounding abortion that both the majority and the minority held.

“Both the court’s opinion and the dissent display a relentless freedom from doubt on the legal issue that I cannot share,” he wrote. “I am not sure, for example, that a ban on terminating a pregnancy from the moment of conception must be treated the same under the Constitution as a ban after 15 weeks.”

Meanwhile, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, in his own concurring opinion, praised the court for separating the issue of abortion from the Constitution.

“In my judgment, on the issue of abortion, the Constitution is neither pro-life nor pro-choice,” he wrote. “The Constitution is neutral and this Court likewise must be scrupulously neutral. The Court today properly heeds the constitutional principle of judicial neutrality and returns the issue of abortion to the people and their elected representatives in the democratic process.”

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