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god on the gridiron

Supreme Court to hear case of high school football coach fired for praying on field

The U.S. Supreme Court said Friday that it would hear the case of Joe Kennedy, who lost his job as a high school football coach for praying with players after games, The New York Times reported.

Bremerton School District in Washington state fired Kennedy in 2015. A Fox News report claims he was fired "over silent prayer on field," but court documents suggest Kennedy's activities were more extensive than that.

"He led the team in prayer in the locker room before each game, and some players began to join him for his post-game prayer, too, where his practice ultimately evolved to include full-blown religious speeches to, and prayers with, players from both teams after the game," wrote a judge from the Ninth Circuit Court, which ruled against Kennedy last year.

"It is really terrible today in America that somebody can be fired just for expressing their faith," Kennedy said during a February appearance on Fox News.

Kennedy claims his rights to free speech and free exercise of religion were trampled, while attorneys from Americans United for Separation of Church and State, representing the district, argue Kennedy's actions violated the First Amendment's establishment clause.  

The Supreme Court previously declined to take up Kennedy v. Bremerton School District in 2019. At the time Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh argued that the court's decision was correct but that the "Ninth Circuit's understanding of the free speech rights of public school teachers is troubling and may justify review in the future."