Supreme Court Sides With Praying Football Coach, Joe Kennedy

The Supreme Court has sided with former high school football coach Joe Kennedy, who lost his job because of his routine of praying on the field.

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

Initially Kennedy prayed alone, but he was soon joined (unprompted) by players. The public school district argued that Kennedy was engaging in unprotected “government speech,” and said that the coach was “forcing prayer” on the players – something Kennedy has steadfastly denied.

Kennedy and his lawyers have argued that he was engaging in private speech and also pointed out that he should be allowed to do so under the First Amendment.

In April, the former coach explained the pattern of his prayer to Fox News: “The prayer after the football game — that was just myself, I would just take a knee at the 50-yard line after football game. After a few months, the kids would say, ‘Coach, what are you doing out there?’ And I just said, ‘I was thanking God for what you did.’ They asked if they could join. And I said, ‘It’s America, a free country. You do what you want to do.’ And that’s how that kind of started.”

Supreme Court Reviewing Coach’s Suspension For On-Field Prayers

On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed with Kennedy and his legal team who had been suing the Bremerton School District, alleging they violated his First Amendment rights when they told him he couldn’t pray on the field.

In the court’s opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote 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.”

He continued: “Religious observances even as it allows comparable secular speech. The Constitution neither mandates nor tolerates that kind of discrimination.”

Kennedy, who now resides in Florida, has previously stated that he’d like to move back to Washington and resume coaching at Bremerton High School, his previous employer and alma mater.

*OutKick will have more on this developing story as it unfolds.

 

Follow along on Twitter: @OhioAF

 

 

 

Written by Anthony Farris

5 Comments

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  1. Good!! Great win for Coach. I doubt he’ll get his job back at that school, but he certainly deserves it if that’s what he wants since he was wrongfully terminated. Will the school district and the administrators who made this decision be held liable?

  2. A loss in the case would have meant that players that give the sign of the cross or kiss a religious medal before batting would not be allowed to do that. You see dozens of religious actions during sporting events. I can’t comprehend why 3 justices dissented. Ridiculous from the very start.

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