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article imageHigh Court refuses to hear high school coach's prayer case

By Nikki Weingartner     Mar 5, 2009 in World
The United States Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of a New Jersey football coach who wants to pray with his students. Since 1983, Marcus Borden has allegedly engaged in prayer activity during school events, but that officially must stop.
Earlier this week, the US Supreme Court refused to accept Marcus Borden's appeal to engage in prayer with his students. Bordon allegedly had a history of over twenty years of "leading prayers" but due to it being a violation of school district policy, he was told to stop. After taking it to court, he initially won his case in a district court ruling back in 2006, when a judge stated the East Brunswick, NJ school district policy was unconstitutional. As explained by NJ.com, Coach Borden's original appeal was denied by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, PA, last year, overturning the district court's decision and upholding the school district's policy as constitutional:
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Coach Marcus Borden last month, saying his desire to bow his head and kneel during team prayer is an endorsement of religious activity at a public school.
A second appeal to the same court requesting another trial was denied a few days later.
In 2005, Coach Borden had become the center of controversy due to complaints that he prayed with students during games, dinners and even locker room meetings. Offended parents begin filing the complaints against the coach and under pressure, he initially quit his job as a coach. However, in a renewed effort to fight for new district policies, he rescinded the resignation and began the legal battle.
After putting up a good fight and his hope that the superior court would overturn the lower court's decision, The United States Supreme Court has refused to hear the case.
Attorney Richard Katskee of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State commented on the final ruling in a prepared statement: "children have a clear right to attend public schools without religious pressures being brought to bear by school personnel. I hope that other coaches and school personnel learn a lesson from this." The district school board president also agreed with final decision that backs up their policy, calling it a reaffirmation of their policy that school employees cannot "engage" students in religion.
Coach Borden will not be allowed to join in student-led prayer or lead prayer with students or players. It is unknown what behaviour is expected of the coach if the students choose to pray.
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