Supreme Court rules for coach whose football field prayers raised questions about church-state separation

“Kennedy spoke as a public employee when he kneeled and prayed on the 50-yard line immediately after games while in view of students and parents,” said Judge Milan Smith for the 9th Circuit.


National News

June 27, 2022 - 3:41 PM

Former Bremerton High School assistant football coach Joe Kennedy answers questions after his legal case, Kennedy vs. Bremerton School District, was argued before the Supreme Court on April 25 in Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON  — The Supreme Court ruled Monday for a former high school football coach whose prayers at the 50-yard line drew crowds and controversy, declaring his public prayers were protected as free speech.

The 6-3 decision is a symbolic victory for those who seek a larger role for prayers and religion in the public schools.

The court stressed that Coach Joe Kennedy’s prayers began as private and personal expression and were not official acts of promoting religion at school.

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