The Washington state high school football coach that was penalized with termination back in 2015 for holding a voluntary prayer on the field in the wake of his games, Joe Kennedy, is slated to be officially reinstated to his previous position on March 15, 2023.
This massive news come in the wake of Kennedy’s Supreme Court victory back in June that resulted in a 6-3 ruling that the coach was well within his constitutional rights to host a voluntary prayer at midfield once the games are over.
“Bremerton School District shall not interfere with or prohibit Kennedy from offering a prayer consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion,” stated the attorneys via the filing, as reported by court records. Some details are still in discussion, with the original filing saying, “The parties disagree on the specific wording of this portion of the injunction.”
The court documents also highlighted that the “Bremerton School District cannot retaliate against or take any future adverse employment action against Kennedy for conduct that complies with the terms of the Court’s Order.”
As part of the Tuesday filing from both sides taking part in the case, court records were handed over to U.S. District Court for Western District of Washington Judge Robert Lasnik that said that Kennedy would be reinstated to his former job. Kennedy worked there as an assistant coach for the Bremerton High School football team prior to the massive ordeal regarding his voluntary post-game prayers.
Justice Neil Gorsuch officially wrote the majority ruling regarding the June decision roughly seven years after the events.
“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,” stated Gorsuch. “Religious observances even as it allows comparable secular speech. The Constitution neither mandates nor tolerates that kind of discrimination.”
Kennedy first started working as an assistant coach back in 2008 and kicked off the tradition of kneeling at midfield in prayer once each game had finished. After a period of time, his actions drew in students who volunteered to join him.
The practice ended up becoming an issue once an administrator for the school spoke with the players back in 2015, and Kennedy was then put on forced administrative leave.
Kennedy lost his case in both the district court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. At first, the Supreme Court shot down the case back in 2019, knocking the case back down to the District Court, which chose to side with the previous ruling.
In the wake of the 9th Circuit Court once again ruling against Kennedy, his legal team, First Liberty Institute, and Kirkland & Ellis, once again put forth the case to the Supreme Court of 2021, which finally accepted it.
“This is just so awesome. All I’ve ever wanted was to be back on the field with my guys,” stated Kennedy after the court win.
“I am incredibly grateful to the Supreme Court, my fantastic legal team, and everyone who has supported us,” he stated. “I thank God for answering our prayers and sustaining my family through this long battle.”