Press Releases

College Football Coaching Legend Bobby Bowden to U.S. Supreme Court: Let Coach Kennedy Pray!

August 2, 2018

Legendary coach leads Members of Congress, others in asking Court to review school district’s decision to fire coach Joe Kennedy because of his silent 15-second prayer

Washington, DC—Late yesterday, legendary football coach Bobby Bowden, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 12 State Attorneys General, The Texas High School Coaches Association, and 15 members of Congress filed “friend of the court” briefs urging the Supreme Court of the United States to hear the case of Coach Joe Kennedy, a high school football coach who was fired for taking a knee at the fifty-yard line and offering a brief, private prayer after high school football games. Kennedy’s case has received national attention and support from political and religious leaders including President Trump and Franklin Graham, and former NFL players Steve Largent, and Chad Hennings.

“Coach Bowden knows—better than most—the importance of prayer in the life of a football coach,” said Kelly Shackelford, President, CEO, and Chief Counsel to First Liberty. “Banning all coaches from praying just because they can be seen is wrong and contradicts the Constitution”

“No coach in this country should have to set down their faith when they pick up their whistle. I’m honored to support Coach Kennedy and his right to pray in public,” said Coach Bobby Bowden. “I’m happy to place my name next to Coach Kennedy in front of the Supreme Court. No matter what their decision is, in my book, he is winning where it counts.”

Adam Foslid with the law firm of GreenbergTraurig, P.A. is counsel of record for Coach Bowden. Last month, attorneys for First Liberty Institute and Kirkland & Ellis LLP filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court of the United States on behalf of Kennedy. Kennedy’s attorneys are asking the Justices to reverse a lower court decision that allowed a school district to fire him because fans and students could see him take a knee in silent prayer after football games.

“We are especially grateful to Senators Cornyn and Lankford and all the Members of Congress for their support of Coach Kennedy before the Supreme Court of the United States,” added Shackelford. “And the importance of each one of these briefs cannot be overstated.”

Read more and view legal documents at

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About First Liberty Institute

First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

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