Marine Veteran Seeks Justice
Eighteen-year Marine veteran Joseph Kennedy lost his job as a high school football coach for praying on the field after football games. Starting when he became coach in 2008, Kennedy’s prayers lasted 15-30 seconds and he never required or asked any student to pray along with him. However, he occasionally brought up religious content in this motivational talks.
Kennedy continued to pray undisturbed until the principal of the high school heard a complaint about his habit in the fall of 2015. The Seattle-area Bremerton School District made a decision to fire Kennedy for ignoring the accommodations of private locations made for prayer.
Silent Prayer Should Be Protected Private Speech
The employee is imposing his own preferences on the students, and the athletes are the true victims, says Richard Katskee, an attorney defending the Bremerton School District. Ultimately, the district argues that as an employee of the state, Kennedy’s actions violated the constitutional separation of church and state. As the defendants have argued, if Kennedy had taken a knee to protest racial injustice, the Bremerton School District would have agreed it’s protected private speech.
After Kennedy lost twice in lower courts, the lawsuit was brought upon the Supreme Court in 2019. A decision should be reached in June.
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