John R. Houk, Blog Editor
June 27, 2022
Coach [Praying] Joe Kennedy. (Image credit: First Liberty Institute) – Photo via CBN News
In recent SCOTUS rulings, Trump appointed Justices added Conservative Judicial clout enabling the Supreme Court to protect the 2nd Amendment in NY State and help protect the lives to unborn persons by striking down Roe v. Wade.
I discovered today that Leftist-haters of Religious Liberty on taxpayer supported property took another SCOTUS smackdown reversing 9th Appellate Courts approval of Bremerton High School persecution of then Asst. Football Coach Joe Kennedy for praying on the Football Field after games. I posted on Bremerton High School’s religious persecution of Coach Kennedy before he was discharged for his acts of faith way back in 2015.
Below you can read a couple of reports on Joe Kennedy’s Religious Liberty being upheld first from The Epoch Times and then from The Conservative Treehouse (or is it The Last Refuge, I never get that straight). Honorable mention goes to CBN News.
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Supreme Court Rules in Favor of High School Football Coach Fired for Post-Game Prayers
Decision overturns the oft-reversed 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
People walk past the Supreme Court building during a rainstorm in Washington on June 23, 2022. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
June 27, 2022 Updated: June 27, 2022
The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 on June 27 that a school district in Washington state violated First Amendment religious freedom protections when it fired high school football coach Joseph Kennedy for leading personal prayers at the 50-yard line after games.
The decision is regarded as a victory for religious freedom.
In the case, the high court held that the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect an individual engaging in a personal religious observance from government reprisal.
The court found that the U.S. Constitution neither requires nor allows governments to suppress such religious expression.
Coach Joseph “Joe” Kennedy, who no longer works for the taxpayer-funded Bremerton School District in Washington state, claimed his rights were violated when the district forbade him from praying in view of the public after games.
The school district argued that when Kennedy prayed midfield after games, he was viewed by onlookers as a coach who was serving as a mentor and role model.
In this theory of the case, Kennedy was acting as a government employee at that moment, which would mean that he was engaging in speech that constituted government speech that isn’t protected by the First Amendment.
But the majority of Supreme Court justices disagreed with the school district in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District (court file 21-418), an appeal from the frequently overturned U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion (pdf) for the court. All six conservative justices, including Gorsuch, ruled in favor of Kennedy; all three liberal justices ruled against him. Oral argument was heard April 25.
Gorsuch noted that Kennedy lost his job as a high school football coach in the Bremerton School District “because he knelt at midfield after games to offer a quiet prayer of thanks” during a period “when school employees were free to speak with a friend, call for a reservation at a restaurant, check email, or attend to other personal matters.”
In other words, Kennedy offered “his prayers quietly while his students were otherwise occupied.”
The school district disciplined him because it believed anything less might lead a reasonable observer to mistakenly conclude that it endorsed Kennedy’s religious beliefs, Gorsuch wrote.
The district was wrong to do so, the justice added.
“The Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect expressions like Mr. Kennedy’s. Nor does a proper understanding of the Amendment’s Establishment Clause require the government to single out private religious speech for special disfavor.
“The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike,” Gorsuch wrote.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion, which was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. The dissent characterizes Kennedy as a wrongdoer.
“This case is about whether a public school must permit a school official to kneel, bow his head, and say a prayer at the center of a school event,” Sotomayor wrote. “The Constitution does not authorize, let alone require, public schools to embrace this conduct.”
The Supreme Court is wrong to ignore “the severe disruption to school events caused by Kennedy’s conduct, viewing it as irrelevant because the Bremerton School District … stated that it was suspending Kennedy to avoid it being viewed as endorsing religion.”
Kennedy was responsible for “repeated disruptions of school programming and violations of school policy regarding public access to the field as grounds for suspending him.”
“This decision does a disservice to schools and the young citizens they serve, as well as to our nation’s longstanding commitment to the separation of church and state.”
The Supreme Court issued three opinions in total in already argued cases on June 27.
The court is trying to dispose of a backlog of cases before it leaves for summer recess. With the release of the three opinions, four remain to be released in the court’s current term.
When it wraps up, Justice Breyer is expected to formally leave the court and be replaced by Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden’s nominee who was narrowly confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 7.
On June 27, the court announced it will next issue opinions on June 29.
This is a developing story. This article will be updated.
Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative journalist and a recognized expert in left-wing activism.
Copyright © 2000 – 2022 The Epoch Times
Freedom Wins, Supreme Court Sides with High School Coach Fired for Praying on Field After Games
June 27, 2022
The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Joseph Kennedy [Full Ruling Here] saying the Bremerton school district in Washington state was wrong to fire him for praying after football games with players of both teams. By a vote of 6-3, the justices ruled that Coach Joseph Kennedy’s conduct was protected by the First Amendment.
In 2015, Kennedy had been a part-time football coach at Bremerton High School for seven years. Coach Kennedy would pray at midfield after each game, alone, with players and with players of the opposing team joining him. When the school district learned about Kennedy’s prayers, they told him to stop. Kennedy refused, and despite wide support from parents and the community the district fired him.
Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the court’s opinion and was joined in full by Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh. Gorsuch explained that the government’s only real justification for its decision to fire Kennedy “rested on a mistaken view that it had a duty to ferret out and suppress religious observances even as it allows comparable secular speech. The Constitution,” Gorsuch concluded, “neither mandates nor tolerates that kind of discrimination.”
(Via Christian Post) […] “Kennedy prayed during a period when school employees were free to speak with a friend, call for a reservation at a restaurant, check email, or attend to other personal matters. He offered his prayers quietly while his students were otherwise occupied. Still, the Bremerton School District disciplined him anyway,” wrote Gorsuch.
“Both the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect expressions like Mr. Kennedy’s … The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike.”
In response to today’s opinion, Kennedy said, “This is just so awesome. All I’ve ever wanted was to be back on the field with my guys. I am incredibly grateful to the Supreme Court, my fantastic legal team, and everyone who has supported us. I thank God for answering our prayers and sustaining my family through this long battle.”
Kelly Shackelford, president, CEO and chief counsel for First Liberty, a religious liberty law firm based in Plano, Texas, which represented Kennedy, hailed the court’s decision as a “tremendous victory for Coach Kennedy and religious liberty for all Americans.” (more)
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
~ Matthew 18:20
“Will you pray with me?” or “will you allow me to pray with you?” These are examples of the strongest proactive affirmations of fellowship, love and faith you can bring to any encounter. Prayer works. However, it is not enough to simply to stop and pray, we should immediately affirm the intent of the moment. We should pause, gather or assemble, and pray in His name. That is where the Spirit of Jesus will manifest. Seek to gather with others in the name of Jesus and experience His presence in the moments of life.
Fellowship is important. There are many biblical commands concerning “one another” because God does not want us to be alone. Isolation and/or aloneness is not living, it can be painful and harmful to our spirit. Burdens weight most when carried alone. Fellowship is the connective tissue that brings life to our journey. When you feel hardship, pray. When you see hardship, pray. When you find hardship in another, pray.
There is no level of experience needed for prayer, nor is there an apprenticeship for faith. While living, pay attention. When you see a burden reach out, feel, connect, and begin… “Dear God,”….. the rest will follow.
© 2022 The Conservative Treehouse