The Supreme Court rules in favor of the Christian football coach who was fired for praying on the field after games
A Christian football coach who was dismissed for praying on the field after games won a battle all the way up to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court of the United States has decided that a school district in the state of Washington acted improperly when it disciplined a high school football coach for praying on the field after games.
The ruling was handed down by the Supreme Court on Monday morning and stated that Coach Joe Kennedy was the victim of discrimination on the part of the Bremerton School District.
The judgment of the court was presented by Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was joined in his delivery by the Chief Justice of the Court, John Roberts, as well as Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, and Brett Kavanaugh.
“During the time that John F. Kennedy was praying, other people who worked at the school were free to do things like check their email, talk on the phone with a friend, make a reservation at a restaurant, or attend to other personal issues. He said his prayers in a hushed voice as his students were engaged in other activities. However, he was still subjected to disciplinary action by the Bremerton School District “admonished Gorsuch.
“Expressions such as Mr. Kennedy’s are protected by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, as well as the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. Both the Constitution and the most cherished of our traditions advise that religious and nonreligious points of view should be treated with mutual respect and tolerance rather than restriction and oppression.”
Kennedy, in response to the viewpoint expressed today, remarked, “This is just so fantastic. My entire life, all I’ve ever wanted to do is get back out on the field with my teammates. I have the deepest gratitude for the Supreme Court, for the wonderful members of my legal team, and for everyone else who has supported us. I give thanks to God for hearing our prayers and helping my family stay strong throughout this drawn-out conflict.
Kelly Shackelford, president, CEO, and chief counsel for First Liberty, a religious liberty law firm based in Plano, Texas, which represented Kennedy, hailed the court’s decision as a “tremendous victory for Coach Kennedy and religious liberty for all Americans.” The court’s decision was hailed as a “tremendous victory for Coach Kennedy and religious liberty for all Americans.”
She went on to say that “our Constitution safeguards the right of every American to participate in private religious expression,” which includes the right to pray in public without worrying about being fired. “We are thankful that the Supreme Court recognized what the Constitution and the law have long declared — that Americans are allowed to live out their faith in public,” said one member of the American Atheists organization.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, penned a dissenting opinion in which she argued that “this Court consistently has recognized that school officials leading prayer is constitutionally impermissible.” Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan agreed with her position.
She wrote that “officially led prayer strikes at the core of our constitutional protections for the religious liberty of students and their parents,” which are embodied in both the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. “Officially led prayer strikes at the core of our constitutional protections for the religious liberty of students and their parents,” she said.
“This ruling is a disservice to schools and the young citizens that they serve. It also does a disservice to our Nation’s longstanding commitment to the separation of church and state.”
“After seven long years, Coach Kennedy can finally return to the place he belongs — coaching football and quietly praying by himself after the game,” said Paul Cement, a former United States Solicitor General and an attorney for the First Liberty network, who argued Kennedy’s case before the Supreme Court. This is a huge win for Coach Kennedy, and it’s also a win for the First Amendment.
At the end of football games at his high school, Kennedy would go to the 50-yard line and pray, frequently with the support of his fellow classmates.
This decision to terminate his employment was based on his refusal to stop reciting religious chants on the field after games, which the school district took action against in 2015.
In 2016, Kennedy filed a lawsuit against the school system, claiming that they had infringed on his religious freedom.
As Shackelford put it earlier this year, “No teacher or coach should be fired for simply expressing his or her beliefs while in public.”
An appeals court in the Ninth Circuit in 2017 ruled against the coach, and the Supreme Court in 2019 first refused to take his case after a three-judge panel there refused to hear it in 2017.
After a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit decided against Kennedy in March last year, the majority judgment was written by Judge Milan D Smith Jr.
An objective observer familiar with Kennedy’s conduct would undoubtedly interpret his demonstrations as BSD’s endorsement of a certain faith. Because of this, BSD was justified in its treatment of Kennedy,” Smith wrote.
For this reason, BSD sought to engage with Kennedy to find a solution that would not violate the Establishment Clause while yet providing him with options narrowly designed to protect his constitutional rights, as stated by BSD: “…
When the Supreme Court agreed to consider an appeal in January, justices debated whether or not Kennedy’s prayer habit was coercive at oral arguments in late April.
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