Former Washington state high school assistant football coach Joe Kennedy, who was fired in 2015 for praying on the field after games, will be reinstated at the school in March 2023.
Following a years-long legal battle with the Bremerton School District, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Kennedy’s favor with a 6-3 decision in late June.
On Tuesday, attorneys from both parties filed a joint stipulation in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington stating that Kennedy will be reinstated to his former position by March 15, 2023.
“Bremerton School District shall not interfere with or prohibit Kennedy from offering a prayer consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion,” the attorneys wrote in the filing. “Some details remain in discussion, with the filing stating, “The parties disagree on the specific wording of this portion of the injunction.”
“Bremerton School District cannot retaliate against or take any future adverse employment action against Kennedy for conduct that complies with the terms of the Court’s Order,” they added.
In June, the Supreme Court ruled that the football coach was within his constitutional right to pray on the field after the games.
“Here, a government entity sought to punish an individual for engaging in a brief, quiet, personal religious observance doubly protected by the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion.
“And the only meaningful justification the government offered for its reprisal rested on a mistaken view that it had a duty to ferret out and suppress religious observances even as it allows comparable secular speech,” he continued. “The Constitution neither mandates nor tolerates that kind of discrimination.”
The Bremerton School District suspended and later fired Kennedy from his position in 2015 after a school administrator expressed concern about his practice of kneeling at the 50-yard line in prayer after each game. Sometimes students would join in voluntarily.
As reported by The Daily Wire, Kennedy lost in both the district court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2019, the nation’s high court rejected the case and sent it back to the District Court, which upheld the previous rulings.
In January, the Supreme Court agreed to take up Kennedy’s case following another rejection by the Ninth Circuit. First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit legal organization, represented Kennedy.
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.