Coach in New Jersey Cannot Pray with Players

April 16, 2008


Source: The New York Times

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the public school district in East Brunswick, N.J., was not violating the constitutional rights of a football coach when it prohibited staff members from participating in student prayers.

Marcus Borden, who has been the head football coach at East Brunswick High School since 1983, sued the district in 2005, saying its policy violated his rights to free speech and due process, as well as to academic freedom and freedom of association.

In July 2006, the United States District Court for New Jersey ruled that Borden could bow his head and bend his knee when the team captains led the players in prayer, but three judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit overturned the lower court’s ruling Tuesday, citing Borden’s history of leading prayers in the past.