The Supreme Court on Monday sided with a former high school football coach who lost his job for offering prayers at the 50-yard line after games despite objections from the school district that students felt compelled to take part.

In the latest instance of the nation's highest court backing a religious freedom claim 

majority of the justices said that assistant coach Joseph Kennedy's prayers were a private matter and did not amount to the school district's endorsement of Christianity. 

Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the 6-3 majority opinion. The court's three liberal justices dissented. 

"The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike," Gorsuch wrote.

In dissent, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the decision weakens the barrier between church and state. 

"It elevates one individual’s interest in personal religious exercise, in the exact time and place of that individual’s choosing 

Over society’s interest in protecting the separation between church and state, eroding the protections for religious liberty for all," she wrote. 

Kennedy was placed on administrative leave in 2015 from his job at Bremerton High School, a public school near Seattle. 

School officials said they offered Kennedy the option of praying elsewhere. They said they heard from players' parents who were concerned their children felt compelled by peer pressure to participate. 

Kennedy countered that the accommodations were impractical because the spaces that officials offered were "insanely far away from my players." And he said he never asked and pressured anyone else to pray with him. 

During the April oral arguments in the case, several of the conservative justices indicated they thought the prayers were a private matter and different from a teacher praying in a classroom with students present. 

The Supreme Court ruled in 1962 that public schools could not offer prayers, even if participation by students is voluntary.