Senator Roger Wicker wants the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a lower court’s decision that allowed a coach in Washington state to be fired for silently kneeling and praying after school football games. Joe Kennedy coached the junior varsity football team at Bremerton High School. He would wait until his players cleared the field to pray. The school sent him a letter demanding he put a stop to the practice, and didn’t renew his contract.
The former coach filed a lawsuit against the school district, which a federal district court initially dismissed. On appeal, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit argued Kennedy’s prayers were not protected by the Constitution because he was praying as a public employee. In 2019, Coach Kennedy asked the Supreme Court to review the case but the Court denied review of the case, with a concurring statement by four Justices requesting more information. After the decision, the case went back to the lower courts. In March 2021, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit upheld the District Court’s decision that Kennedy’s silent, public prayers after football games violated the Establishment Clause, and the circuit court denied an appeal for review.
U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., joined an amicus brief led by Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., in support of Coach Joe Kennedy in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District. The brief asks the Supreme Court to review and reverse a lower court’s decision that allowed the coach to be fired for silently kneeling and praying after school football games he coached.
“Religious freedom is a principle enshrined in our country’s Bill of Rights,” Wicker said. “It is regrettable to see religious freedom ignored and a devout coach fired for practicing his sincerely-held beliefs. The Supreme Court should immediately reverse this decision and stand in defense of one of America’s most sacred traditions.”
Read the full amicus brief here.