SCOTUS Backs Football Coach Fired For Praying on Field

The Supreme Court sided with a Seattle-area football coach who was fired for refusing to end his brief prayers on the field after games. Coach Joseph Kennedy was ordered to stop kneeling at midfield, and was terminated when he refused.

The 6-3 ruling is another breach in the fictitious “wall of separation” between church and state that leftists misuse to stifle public religious expression.

Writing for the majority, Justice Neil Gorsuch asserted that the 1st Amendment’s “free exercise” and “free speech” clauses protect Kennedy’s expressions.

Using the district’s logic, Gorsuch wrote that a school could fire a Muslim teacher for wearing a headscarf or prohibit a Christian from “praying quietly over their lunch.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who is getting a lot of practice at writing dissents, called Coach Kennedy “leading” prayer on the field “constitutionally impermissible.” She said the ruling flies in the face of the U.S.’s “longstanding commitment to separation of church and state.”

In 2008, Kennedy began kneeling on the 50-yard line after football games for a brief prayer. This inspired members of both his and eventually other teams to join him, but after seven years of the devotion, the school said he must stop the prayer.

He did briefly but then informed the district that he would continue. Kennedy was then placed on administrative leave. This led to his filing a lawsuit accusing the district of violating his First Amendment rights of free speech and religion.

The school responded that Kennedy used his position as a coach and leader to sway the football team to join him. The prayer gave the impression that the system endorsed a specific religion, according to district administration.

It argued further that nonbelievers felt they must go along with the post-game prayers or risk being penalized by losing playing time.

The court just last week handed down another major ruling protecting freedom of religion. The justices ruled that a Maine program that denied tuition assistance to students in remote areas simply on the basis of the religious affiliation of a private school to be unconstitutional.

The 1st Amendment was never intended to prohibit free exercise of religion. Rather, it reflected the framers’ fear of a government-established church, which does not exist, and apart from that prohibits interference with worship. It’s rather simple.