The Supreme Court has handed down its ruling that Joseph Kennedy, a high school football coach in the state of Wash., has the right to pray in public after football games.
Kennedy, who spent 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, was fired from his job as an assistant football coach for kneeling on the 50-yard-line and praying after three of his football team’s games in Oct. of 2015.
The lower courts cited separation of church and state in ruling for the Bremerton School District, and the Ninth Circuit Court based in San Francisco affirmed the lower court’s ruling following Kennedy’s appeal.
The Ninth District Court denied Kennedy’s motion that he be reinstated as a football coach.
Kennedy won his appeal to the Supreme Court based on his claim that his prayers were protected under the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Clauses that protect an individual from the government’s reprisal against an individual for participating in religious observances.
The case was argued before the Supreme Court on April 25, 2022, and the 6-3 decision favoring Kennedy was handed down on June 27, 2022.
The Supreme Court agreed with Kennedy that the school district violated his free exercise and free speech rights by barring him from praying following his team’s football games and by firing him for not obeying orders from the school district’s officials who instructed him not to engage in public prayer on the football field.