Former Bremerton High School assistant football coach Joe Kennedy takes a knee in front of the U.S. Supreme Court after his legal case, Kennedy vs. Bremerton School District, was argued before the court on April 25, 2022 in Washington, DC. Kennedy was terminated from his job by Bremerton public school officials in 2015 after refusing to stop his on-field prayers after football games.
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The high school football coach who recently won a Supreme Court case about on-field prayer, quit.
Joe Kennedy, the coach in Washington state, alleged “retaliation” from the school district.
No athletes joined him to pray on the field after his first game back following his reinstatement.
In 2022, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a high school football coach who was put on leave in 2015 for repeatedly engaging in public prayer following games. But after years of court battles leading to him being reinstatedfor the 2023 season, he quit after his first game back and no students joined him in prayer.
The Seattle Times reports that Joe Kennedy, the former assistant football coach at Bremerton High School in Washington, doesn’t even live in the state anymore — he and his wife have lived in Pensacola, Florida, for three years.
Less than a week after helping guide his team to a win, Kennedy emailed in his resignation letter, alleging “retaliation” from the school district following his reinstatement and noting that he also had to help take care of a sick family member.
Before he was placed on leave 2015, Kennedy would walk onto the football field and publicly pray — sometimes with students alongside him, sometimes without. Once the school district learned what he was doing, they asked him not to do so as it could be seen as the public school endorsing a religion, which they worried could be a violation of the US Constitution’s Establishment Clause. He refused.
Kennedy sued the school district after they didn’t renew his contract, alleging they violated his First Amendment rights and discriminated against him based on his religion. While other courts ruled in favor of the district, the Conservatives in the US Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of Kennedy in 2022, leading Justice Sonia Sotomayor to allege that conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch misconstrued the facts of the case in his decision.
Kennedy has since written a book about his court case and has a movie about his life in the works.
Following the court win, Kennedy promised he’d be back praying on the field again. According to the Seattle Times, he received a smattering of applause when he knelt at midfield to pray post-game. No student-athletes joined him in prayer in his long-awaited return.