US Supreme Court to hear appeal from Christian football coach fired for praying on the field

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by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – The US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Friday in the case of Joe Kennedy, a Christian high school football coach who was fired from his job in Washington state because he silently kneeled and prayed on the field after games, the Christian Post (CP) reports. Employed by the Bremerton School District, Kenney was suspended in 2015 because spectators and students could see him praying.

Represented by the First Liberty conservative legal organization, Kennedy sued the school district in 2016, arguing that his suspension was a violation of his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and religion, CP said. “No teacher or coach should lose their job for simply expressing their faith while in public,” Kelly Shackelford, President, and CEO of First Liberty said in a statement.

The court of first instance, however, allowed the school district to fire Kennedy, CP reports. Kennedy then appealed to the Ninth Circuit court in 2017, but his suit was dismissed here as well, CP reports.

In 2019, the US Supreme Court declined to hear the case, sending it back to the Ninth Circuit – which again dismissed Kennedy’s appeal. Representing Kennedy, the First Liberty legal organization explained: “At that time, four justices (Justice Alito joined by Justices Thomas, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh) attached a statement signaling that the court would be open to hearing the case at a future time, saying in part, ‘The Ninth Circuit’s understanding of the free speech rights of public school teachers is troubling and may justify review in the future.’”

Having allowed the lower courts to develop the factual record, the Supreme Court has now agreed to hear the case.

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