Coach Kennedy Scores a Win at the U.S. Supreme Court

July 1, 2022
Fli Insider | Supreme Victory

by Ethan Tong & Jorge Gomez • 5 min read

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of our client, Coach Joe Kennedy.

In a 6-3 decision, the Court upheld the right of the former high school football coach to take a knee in quiet prayer on the 50 yard line after games.

If you have closely followed Coach Kennedy’s case, you know the legal battle to restore his constitutional rights has been long and arduous. Nearly eight years ago, the Bremerton School District in Washington fired him for praying on the field. Lower courts repeatedly ruled against him, holding that public employees are not protected by the First Amendment when they engage in religious conduct that is visible to others.

With this week’s victory, Coach Kennedy is finally vindicated. The decision rights the wrongs done to this American hero. He can finally return to the place he belongs, coaching on the field and quietly praying by himself after the game.

In response to the ruling, Kelly Shackelford, President, CEO and Chief Counsel for First Liberty Institute, said:

“This is a tremendous victory for Coach Kennedy. The Court’s decision is exactly what we asked for—allow Coach to pray by himself just like he did for years after he started coaching. We are grateful that the Supreme Court refused to ban him from praying just because he can be seen by the public.”

Watch Coach Kennedy’s reaction immediately after finding out he won:

Today’s ruling sets a key precedent for religious freedom in America. It affirms the constitutional rights of all public-school teachers and coaches to engage in a brief, personal prayer in public. The Court made it clear:

“Respect for religious expressions is indispensable to life in a free and diverse Republic. Here, a government entity sought to punish an individual for engaging in a personal religious observance, based on a mistaken view that it has a duty to suppress religious observances even as it allows comparable secular speech. The Constitution neither mandates nor tolerates that kind of discrimination.”

As a faithful First Liberty supporter, we want to THANK YOU for joining Team Kennedy and helping us achieve this important milestone.

Just as in football, legal victories of great significance are rarely won by one player or in a single play. It takes hard work, a great game plan and a team coming together to make that victory a reality.

Your ongoing prayers and financial support are the reason why our legal team can keep fighting—and winning—for courageous Americans like Coach Kennedy. You share in this victory. It’s as if your name is right there alongside Coach Kennedy on the final decision.

As we celebrate this win, would you consider donating to First Liberty?

This is a major victory for religious freedom, and we now have huge opportunities ahead. First Liberty is currently preparing three more cases for the Supreme Court.

Your support can help us secure more precedent setting wins at the Supreme Court. Please make your best gift today to keep us on the frontlines of this fight.

When we fight together…We win together.

Fli Insider | Coach Winning Together

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