The chill that such a restriction on the First Amendment would bring upon the American public is indeed frightening. A Jewish teacher might be perceived as engaged in “demonstrative” activity should students see his yarmulke. Catholic teachers whose rosary or crucifix might be visible to students could be perceived as “demonstrative.”
For that matter, under the Ninth Circuit’s opinion, in this quick-to-sue world of ours, a teacher uttering “God bless you” after a student sneezes might be accused of unlawful behavior.
More remarkable still, the justices noted that the Ninth Circuit’s opinion may extend beyond the workday. After all, part of the justification by the appellate court in approving the termination of Coach Kennedy included the fact that even after he was fired, Coach Kennedy dared to engage in prayer near students.
“The suggestion that even while off duty,” Justice Alito wrote, “a teacher or coach cannot engage in any outward manifestation of religious faith is remarkable.”
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