A now former Washington State high school football who was fired for refusing to stop pray on the field will have his case heard by the Supreme Court.
Joe Kennedy coached at Bremerton High School from 2008 to 2015.
He was suspended from the final game of the 2015 season by the school district over the prayer.
Students occasionally gathered around him, although he said he never invited their participation.
The district told him he was not allowed to pray on the field, telling him he should do it in an off-field press box. He had prayed on field since 2008 with no problems.
Attorney Kelly Shackelford, President & CEO of First Liberty Institute, is representing Kennedy in court, he says “no teacher or coach should lose their job for simply expressing their faith while in public. By taking this important case, the Supreme Court can protect the right of every American to engage in private religious expression, including praying in public, without fear of punishment.”
“The Supreme Court declined to take up the case in January 2019 and asked the lower courts to continue to develop the factual record. In a statement issued with that denial, Justice Samuel Alito said, “The 9th Circuit’s understanding of the free speech rights of public school teachers is troubling and may justify review in the future.”
Noting the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals also objected to Mr. Kennedy’s praying in the bleachers at a game at the school, Justice Alito wrote, “The suggestion that even while off duty, a teacher or coach cannot engage in any outward manifestation of religious faith is remarkable.”
Justice Alito was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh in the statement.
The case returned to the lower courts, where a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit appeals court sided with the school district. In July, the appeals court denied a review by all of its judges, prompting Mr. Kennedy’s appeal to the Supreme Court.”