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Supreme Courtroom Tackling Case About Praying Soccer Coach


Supreme Courtroom Tackling Case About Praying Soccer Coach

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Courtroom will sort out a dispute between public college officers and a former highschool soccer coach who needed to kneel and pray on the sector after video games.

The case earlier than the justices on Monday entails Joseph Kennedy, a former soccer coach at Bremerton Excessive Faculty in Bremerton, Washington. For years, the coach would kneel on the heart of the sector following video games and lead college students in prayer. The varsity district finally discovered what he was doing and requested him to cease.

Kennedy’s legal professionals say the Structure’s freedom of speech and freedom of faith ensures permit him to wish on the sector, with college students free to affix. However the college district says Kennedy’s non secular speech interfered with college students’ personal non secular freedom rights, might have the impact of pressuring college students to wish and opened the district itself to lawsuits. The varsity district says it tried to work out an answer so Kennedy, who’s Christian, might pray privately earlier than or after the sport, together with on the sector after college students left, however Kennedy’s lawsuit adopted.

Joe Kennedy, a former assistant football coach at Bremerton High School in Bremerton, Wash., poses for a photo March 9, 2022, at the school's football field. After losing his coaching job for refusing to stop kneeling in prayer with players and spectators on the field immediately after football games, Kennedy will take his arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.
Joe Kennedy, a former assistant soccer coach at Bremerton Excessive Faculty in Bremerton, Wash., poses for a photograph March 9, 2022, on the college’s soccer area. After dropping his teaching job for refusing to cease kneeling in prayer with gamers and spectators on the sector instantly after soccer video games, Kennedy will take his arguments earlier than the U.S. Supreme Courtroom on Monday.

The case involves the court docket at a time when conservative justices make up a majority of the court docket and have been sympathetic to the issues of non secular people and teams, corresponding to teams that introduced challenges to coronavirus restrictions that applied to houses of worship.

The case from Bremerton, in the meantime, has already caught the justices’ consideration. In 2019 the justices declined to become involved within the case at an earlier stage. However four justices were critical of lower court rulings for the school district, writing that an appeals court docket’s “understanding of the free speech rights of public college academics is troubling.”

Kennedy began working at Bremerton Excessive Faculty in 2008, and it was his follow on the finish of video games — after the gamers and coaches from each groups would meet at midfield to shake fingers — to pause and kneel to wish. Kennedy mentioned he needed to present thanks for what his gamers had completed and for his or her security, amongst different issues.

Kennedy initially prayed alone on the 50-yard line on the finish of video games, however college students began becoming a member of him and over time he started to ship a brief, inspirational speak with non secular references. Kennedy says he by no means required gamers to affix or requested any scholar to wish. He additionally led the staff in prayer within the locker room earlier than video games, a follow that predated him.

The varsity district didn’t be taught of Kennedy’s follow till 2015. It informed him then that he wanted to cease praying with college students or partaking in overtly non secular exercise whereas nonetheless “on responsibility” as a coach. After Kennedy continued to wish on the sector, he was positioned on paid depart. His contract expired and he didn’t reapply to teach the next yr, the college says.

A call is anticipated earlier than the court docket begins its summer time recess.

The case is Kennedy v. Bremerton Faculty District, 21-418.

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