The Supreme Court ruled in favor of a former high school football coach who was ordered by school officials to stop praying on the field following games.
Joseph Kennedy sued the Bremerton School District after he was not rehired, claiming his rights were violated because he refused to stop praying at the 50-yard line with students and other coaches. The school offered him a private area to pray, arguing he was acting in his official duties as coach and that other players may have felt compelled to join him in the religious act.
The Supreme Court ruled that Kennedy’s brief prayer on the field was protected by the First Amendment and that his actions were not considered government speech.
“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,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the Court’s opinion. “Religious observances even as it allows comparable secular speech. The Constitution neither mandates nor tolerates that kind of discrimination.”
According to NBC News, Kennedy now lives in Florida but has previously stated that he would return to Bremerton to seek his job back if the Supreme Court ruled in his favor.