The Supreme Court voted 6-3 in favor of high school football coach Joseph Kennedy, who argued that the Bremerton School District in Washington violated his religious freedom by preventing him from praying on the field after games.
The SCOTUS ruled that the school district violated Kennedy’s First Amendment rights.
According to Fox News, “[a]t issue was whether a public school employee praying alone but in view of students was engaging in unprotected ‘government speech,’ and if it is not government speech, does it still pose a problem under the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. ”
“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.”
From Fox News…
Joe Kennedy was a junior varsity head coach and varsity assistant coach with the Bremerton School District in Washington from 2008 to 2015. He began the practice of reciting a post-game prayer by himself, but eventually students started joining him. According to court documents, this evolved into motivational speeches that included religious themes. After an opposing coach brought it to the principal’s attention, the school district told Kennedy to stop. He did, temporarily, then notified the school that he would resume the practice.
The situation garnered media attention, and when Kennedy announced that he would go back to praying on the field, it raised security concerns. When he did pray after the game, a number of people stormed the field in support.
In the dissent, liberal justices Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor argued the U.S. Constitution “does not authorize, let alone require, public schools to embrace this conduct,” adding that the court “consistently has recognized that school officials leading prayer is constitutionally impermissible.”
Fox News host Laura Ingraham shared the story on Twitter with a one-word response: “Winning!”
Winning! “High school football coach scores big win at Supreme Court over post-game prayer” | Fox News https://t.co/3JuNSg66Tx
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) June 27, 2022