Coach Joe Kennedy Talks Taking Power Of Prayer to The Supreme Court with Dan Dakich

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A warning on the sideline turned into a historic win for religious freedom, and Dan Dakich spoke to Coach Joe Kennedy and his attorney Jeremy Dys about how he made it to the Supreme Court.

Kennedy coached within the Bremerton School District in Washington from 2008 to 2015 but was placed on leave after the district asked him to stop praying on the field post-game — he briefly agreed, then resumed his prayer.


In June, the Supreme Court agreed with Kennedy and his legal team who sued the school district for violating the coach’s First Amendment rights.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the court’s opinion, in part: “Here, a government entity sought to punish an individual for engaging in a brief, quiet, personal religious observance doubly protected by the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment. And the only meaningful justification the government offered for its reprisal rested on a mistaken view that it had a duty to ferret out and suppress.”


Kennedy and his attorney detailed the losses they took before the Supreme Court heard his case in June, with Kennedy taking five losses before this win.

Kennedy’s attorney, Jeremy Dys with First Liberty, said individuals have a really long shot to get to the Supreme Court of the United States and then to have them actually hear the case and decide it.

“So it what it takes is is a really compelling set of facts and a really egregious application of the law. And Coach Kennedy had a really compelling set of facts that all he did was try to take a knee and private bear by himself at the 50-yard line and was fired for it all,” Dys said. “And then the Ninth Circuit supplied the egregious interpretation of the law or the application of the law. And they said that any time a Coach Kennedy was doing that, he was violating the establishment clause. Well, that’s just simply was not true. We know that to be the case because the Supreme Court has said that that was not the case. In fact, Coach Kennedy did absolutely nothing wrong. He engaged his free exercise rights perfectly well. It was the school district who engaged in unconstitutional and unlawful behavior by by suppressing his religious exercise, by suppressing his his free speech, and then by firing him because of the religious activity he engaged in, they violated his free exercise rights and free speech rights and his civil rights. And so we had to sue to get them all back.”

Kennedy, a former Marine, said you don’t stop fighting until there’s nothing left on the clock.

Dan asked Coach Kennedy: “Coach, I got to ask you, as you go through this process and you know, people I always look at the personal way, okay, you’re praying you get fired. Next thing you know, you’re going to fight this. And, you know, you’re just you’re from, as you said, all in five. What kind of toll did this take on you personally?”

Kennedy said in response: “Well, if you take a look at the pictures before and after, I mean, my hair is a little bit grayer. And, you know, it was tough. It was so tough, especially at first when you lose your football team under circumstances that are not favorable. You know, they were ripped out from underneath me. That hurt especially the first four years because I had, you know, incoming freshmen coming in there and you start building attachments and bonding with these guys and now all of a sudden that’s gone. So, you know, at first, it was a lot of hurt and then, you know, the pain went with it and then the anger and the whole nine yards. But my wife I don’t know if you knew this. My wife was the HR Director for the school district that we were suing. So you can imagine what my personal life is here that I’m dropping a lawsuit to on Bremerton School District, which she’s the human resource director for talked about a little awkward it’s been an interesting ride. We’ve had some intense fellowship over the years.”

Dan followed up: “Was there a time when you thought this was done and we’re done? You know, your own five, maybe your own three, and we’re done here. Is there. Was there a point where you were ready to say, screw this, I’ll go do something else?”

Coach Kennedy replied: “Oh, well, you know, I won’t lie to you that I thought that at the very beginning because the kids were like, ‘Hey, coach, can’t you just go along with the school, you know, and stay our coach?’ I actually thought about it back then, but I would have been setting in the worst example in the world for my guys because all of a sudden it became uncomfortable for me. I tell these guys to kill themselves and try to kill the other team every single week. Now, all of a sudden, things are uncomfortable for me. I’m going to be like, Oh, no, I’m not going to go through that. So I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. I knew I had to fight for it. But I tell you, throughout the years, every time you hear I know, especially for a man like that, what is it, the appeals court and that guy, I don’t know what his problem is with me, but one of the judges just took it personally. As matter of fact, he even told me that I was a bad Christian because I wasn’t praying the right way. It’s like, Yeah, once you hear these things over and over again, you know, you’re like, What’s the point of this? But hey, I was raised as a fighter, you know, out on the streets. I was a marine. We don’t give up. So, man, just like my night, my burger tonight. You don’t ever stop fighting till there’s nothing left on the clock. And I had to be that example to do the same.”

Watch the full interview below and the full episode of Don’t @ Me here:

Catch Don’t @ Me with Dan Dakich every Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. across and OutKick’s social media.

Written by Megan Turner

Megan graduated from the University of Central Florida and writes and tweets about anything related to sports. She replies to comments she shouldn't reply to online and thinks the CFP Rankings are absolutely rigged. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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