Supreme Court Sets Hearing Date in Football Prayer Case

The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will hear oral arguments March 29 in a Texas case involving the right of students to pray before public high school football games.

The case, Santa Fe School District v. Doe, arose after two unnamed students challenged Santa Fe School District’s policy of allowing what the school claims are “student-led, student-initiated” prayers prior to school football games. The students claimed the practice violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which requires a separation between church an state.

The ruling could have far-reaching effects on the right of students to speak on religious topics in other school-related contexts, including the student media.

The Student Press Law Center filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case urging the Court to allow students to cover religious topics in student media — just as they would any other newsworthy topic — where it is shown that the speech was not the result of coercion or the direct effort of school officials.

Case: Santa Fe School District v. Doe, 99-62