The United States Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of a now-former public high school football coach who was fired after refusing to stop praying on the field after games.
What are the details?
The high court ruled 6-3 for Joseph Kennedy, a Christian and former football coach at Bremerton (Washington) High School, the Associated Press said. Kennedy had been praying at the 50-yard line after games for years until Bremerton School District in 2015 told him to stop. When he refused, Kennedy said the district suspended him and then fired him.
The conservative justices on the Supreme Court, who hold the majority, voted in favor of Kennedy, while the liberal justices voted against his case, the AP said.
“The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the majority, the outlet noted.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a dissenting opinion that the court’s decision in favor of Kennedy “sets us further down a perilous path in forcing states to entangle themselves with religion,” the AP said, adding that she was joined in her dissent by Justice Stephen Breyer and Justice Elena Kagan.
Supreme Court rules in favor of former coach in prayer case
In 2019, the court declined to take up Kennedy’s case, the AP said — but only four conservative justices were on the court at that time. Amid a conservative majority, Kennedy’s lawyers in January announced that his case finally would be heard. The high court heard arguments in late April, and the words of some justices signaled that the court would side with Kennedy.
Students often joined Kennedy in prayer, despite not being asked to do so, but that still troubled the school district, which asked him to stop, as he was still “on duty” as a coach after the game, the AP said.
“Just hours before what would be my last game as coach, the school district gave me an ultimatum: If I prayed after that night’s game, they would suspend me,” Kennedy wrote in a Fox News op-ed. “As a proudly retired U.S. Marine, something inside me stirred. I would have given my life defending the religious freedom of any American, and yet that very right was denied to me. That just seemed wrong and unjust.”
He added, “I did pray on that chilly October night, leading to my suspension and termination. My only recourse at that point was to seek legal action to vindicate my rights of free speech and free exercise of my religious beliefs.”
Here’s a video report featuring Kennedy that aired prior to the high court’s ruling:
SCOTUS to hear case of high school coach suspended for praying on football field l GMA