Washington State

Supreme Court Won't Hear Case of High School Coach Fired for Praying on the Field

The conservative justices listed a key factor preventing them from hearing the case.

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|||Facebook/Support Coach Joe Kennedy
Facebook/Support Coach Joe Kennedy

The Supreme Court of the United States has declined to hear the case of a football coach in Washington state who was fired for praying while coaching.

Joseph Kennedy was placed on leave in 2015 for praying on the 50-yard line after games. At the time, the Bremerton School District cited Kennedy for a violation of "lawful and constitutionally-required directives" to avoid "overt, public religious displays on the football field while on duty as a coach." The district further argued that Kennedy's prayer left the district open to legal action as he was violating the federal and state constitutional rights of the students.

Kennedy argued that the disciplinary action was in violation of his own First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and religion. He filed a suit against the district in 2016 in an effort to get his job back.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court, including the two conservative justices nominated by Trump, declined to hear Kennedy's case. The conservative justices provided a written explanation for the decision.

Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh noted that their decision was not made in agreement with the lower court, but out of concern for "important unresolved factual questions." The claim of free speech violations in the case were not immediately clear to the members on the court.

Though Kennedy's appeal was rejected, the justices questioned the lower court's understanding of free speech rights of public school teachers. Because of this, the four suggested that the lower court's reasoning could be open to review in the future.

Kennedy received an outpouring of support across the nation throughout the ordeal. A Facebook page regularly updated primarily conservative and religious followers on the facts of the case. News of his firing even reached President Trump, who called the events "absolutely outrageous" while on the campaign trail.

When the case reached the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, district judges argued that Kennedy's argument was flawed. In the appeal, Judge Milan D. Smith, Jr., said that Kennedy had a right to practice his religion while on duty in other ways, including praying in his office while drafting plays, praying "nondemonstratively" with students, and praying in private before and after games. The court believed that the 50-yard line prayer was closer to an "endorsement of a state religion" than the exercise of free speech.

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  1. Jeez, Seattlites really are moving over if this is an issue in fucking Bremerton.

  2. The Supreme Court of the United States has declined to hear the case of a football coach in Washington state who was fired for praying while coaching.

    Perhaps they’d hear the case of … Mr. *Washington*?

    The U.S. Supreme Court gained the right of judicial discretion in determining which cases it hears in the Judiciary Act of 1925 (also called the Judges’ Bill and the Certiorari Act). Prior to this legislation … the Court was obligated to review all cases appealed under its jurisdiction.

    Seriously, it would seem that a middle way might be more, um, satisfying. Something like a majority of congress voting to require the Court to rule on a specific case?

    1. Something like a majority of congress voting to require the Court to rule on a specific case?

      Would that be considered a bill of attainder?

      1. Looking it up again, it wouldn’t. Sorry. Can’t delete.

    2. If SCOTUS was required to hear all cases, then progs would be demanding the Court be expanded due to the workload. I guess it would then come down to who controlled the Senate at the time of expansion.

      1. Expanding SCOTUS wouldn’t help alleviate their workload as SCOTUS doesn’t use 3 judge panels to hear cases, every case is heard by the full court. If they wanted to they could probably do an initial pass with a 3 judge panel even at their current size.

  3. The court believed that the 50-yard line prayer was closer to an “endorsement of a state religion” than the exercise of free speech.

    Really?

    1. OK, common sense test. What religion was he endorsing for the state?
      Islam?
      Judaism?
      Buddhism?
      Paganism?
      Christianity?
      How could the offended snowflakes tell?

      1. The State of Superstitious Ignorance, what else? Voters in Ireland started listening to actual women instead of mystical child-molesters, and the news of Ireland’s Antichoice Amendment being repealed is something the Republicans have to drown out. Dixiecrats and God’s Own Prohibitionists have tried 7 times to rewrite the Constitution to bring back the Comstock Laws since the LP wrote Roe v Wade in 1972 (and the Suprema copied it after the votes were tallied). The Irish recently dared to repeal their girl-forcing Amendment by a huge margin, and mystical bigots will cover their ears and scream till Thought Police rectify the record and restore Ireland to Romish control. This is not rocket science.

      2. Forcing Atheism is as much a religion as any. Agnostics or Atheist cannot prove beyond doubt they are correct so it is a faith or religion. In the case of schools a forced religion.

        Watching anybody pray or joining as a team has never been endorsement just speech.

        1. The proof of atheism, genious, is that there is no evidence for gods of any stripe. Prove me wrong.

          1. You can’t prove a negative, idiot. Lack of proof is not proof of non-existence. It’s why courts rule “not guilty” with insufficient evidence of guilt, not “innocent”.

            Logic 101.

            1. You go right ahead and ignore the lack of evidence because that’s so much more logical. #insertheavyeyerolls

          2. Atheism has a sticky time accounting for transcendentals (i.e., it can’t), like numbers and laws of logic. I’m not saying Evangelical Christianity is a more rational solution, but it’s entirely intellectually respectable to affirm some sort of absolute mind or absolute being as the most probable reason for our reality.

            This whole debate is not nearly as obvious as the fervent on either side like to pretend.

    2. That really is silly isn’t it. Does the court believe that praying on the 50-yd line makes God more likely to intervene in the game and change the score of state-sponsored activities?

  4. “lawful and constitutionally-required directives” to avoid “overt, public religious displays on the football field while on duty as a coach.”

    Coach, next time throw down a rug and bow to the east.

  5. It is awkward for a person in position of authority to lead a public prayer that might be construed as mandatory.

    1. He told every player it wasnt mandatory. He dod it alone his first season, students asked to join. Youd have to be an idiot to infer what you are saying.

      1. Sure. Uh huh. And I bet when the boss asked you to “do him a favor”, you really did think that you were free to refuse the request.

      2. Sure. Uh huh. And I bet when the boss asked you to “do him a favor”, you really did think that you were free to refuse the request.

        1. I played football in highschool, and my coach held a prayer before every game in the locker room. I was and still am an atheist.

          Somehow, I didn’t feel pressured into joining in, even though the coach never explicitly said it wasn’t mandatory, like this guy did.

          It’s not like he was holding a fucking gun to everyone’s head. Just let the guy do his thing and move on.

  6. Maybe one of you Biblical scholars can tell us what Jesus had to say about flaunting one’s religious beliefs in public?

    1. Google let me down… I had to search WAAAY long and hard to find this…

      http://www.religion-online.org…..hew-61-18/

      Shorter version: Do NOT make a show of yourself and your piety!!!

      Chapter 4: The Call to Secret Service (Matthew 6:1-18)

      Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

      Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

      And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who sees in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

      And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

      1. A boat-load of Bible-bangers do NOT want to talk about this one… But I do!!!

        Peter McWilliams (a gay dude, I later learned) wrote a WAAAY cool book, “Ain’t Nobody’s Business if You Do”, see http://www.amazon.com/Aint-Nob…..192976717X … That got a LOT of mileage out of this and similar things said in the Bible… I recommend this book VERY highly!!!!

        (The Bible does NOT belong to the self-righteous!!!!)

      2. Matthew 6

        Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

        But you just said…

        Matthew 5

        You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

        1. Well yes, they do seem to be at odds…

          “He who hesitates is lost”. (Jump NOW!!!)

          “Look before you leap”. (Take your time to decide).

          Conventional wisdom / sayings / Scripture are at odds! Pick the right one at the right timer!

          To me, the bottom line though is: Don’t be a self-righteous hypocrite! Jesus said a BUTT-load of things about THAT!!!!

          See “Ain’t Nobody’s Business if You Do”, see http://www.amazon.com/Aint-Nob…..192976717X … please!!!

          1. Sorry, fixed link as before = http://www.amazon.com/exec/obi…..magazineA/

          2. You can make a point of praying publicly without being showy (or prostrating yourself on a mat). You can highlight your donations to charity without running then in people’s faces. It’s all about context.

            1. You got it right.

              The key phrase in the Matthew 6 passage is “to be seen by them”. It says that pious deeds for personal glorification is a false path.

              The quote from Mathew 5 is perfect. It does not contradict. ” In the same way, let your light shine before others.”

              Do the right thing because it is the right thing to do and others will see that. Do not hide it.

              Those are wise words. Thanks.

              I

      3. That was back when they were first getting that shit started and you couldn’t save many souls if you were getting eaten by lions in the Coliseum.

      4. Also ignored is the rule about obeying rulers and the law because YHWH placed them in power for a reason.

        Picking and choosing the parts you want believe is why the cult of Christ continues. Don’t want to mutilate your dick to prove you’re a member? No worries, we’ll come with a secret handshake or something. Take no care for tomorrow because the kingdom is coming before any of us die? Fuck that! YHWH wants you to sow your seed and receive a tenfold return!

        It’s all so real.

      5. That’s not a relevant passage.

        Armaments 2:9-21

        And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, “O Lord, bless this Thy hand grenade that with it Thou mayest blow Thine enemies to tiny bits, in Thy mercy.” And the Lord did grin and the people did feast upon the lambs and sloths and carp and anchovies and orangutans and breakfast cereals, and fruit bats and large…

        And the Lord spake, saying, “First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin, then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it.” Amen.

  7. This issue was settled when I was in middle school and many years after until this new crop of Christians came about who like to mark their territory by rubbing their scrotums on every possible surface.

    Can’t wait for people lining up to publicly display their constitutionally protected Satanist prayers. That’ll be fun.

    1. So you’re pro forcing teachers to call people by a pronoun of an opposite gender… yet against a coach doing a personal, non mandatory prayer that students asked to join willingly? Yeah you’re a statist fuck.

      1. *hypocritical statist schmuck

      2. Well, put another way, I’m pro-manners and pro-constitution.

        1. Tony! God did NOT make you a fairy!! That’s on YOU!

          1. You’re right. There are no gods. Or leprechauns, as far as we know.

  8. As an avowed atheist I have this to say.

    Coach Kennedy has every right to kneel on the 50 yard line and pray and every Jesus loving player or student has every right to kneel with him and every Jewish or Muslim or Hindu or whatever player or student has a perfect right to ignore him and go about their business or perform their own rites publicly as they see fit. And every atheist has every right to ignore them.

    If at any time the act of prayer or supplication becomes an act of prosletalization said atheist students are perfectly justified in responding with scorn, mockery and derision of the beliefs of any of the said believers.

    Good taste and decorum should be the only restraints.

    Atheists should never be such snowflakes that they cannot tolerate open displays of piety from any group of believers. Believers should never be such snowflakes that they cannot face scorn, mockery and derision of their beliefs when they try to preach them to non-believers.

    1. Amen and well written!!!

    2. It would be nice if cities paid as much attention about exposure to potential lawsuits from their police departments as they are about Christians).

    3. Well put. We’ll burn you at the stake last.

    4. Every right? Please. Coach Kennedy doesn’t own the land he is demonstrating his piety upon and doesn’t make the rules there. Presumably he is on the clock when his team is doing it’s thing and subject to the terms and conditions of employment, the policies and procedures of his employer, as well as ethical obligations as an agent of the state acting in loco parentis. That he disregarded those things in favor of a public demonstration of how to piss off the boss is on him.

    5. “Atheists should never be such snowflakes that they cannot tolerate open displays of piety from any group of believers. Believers should never be such snowflakes that they cannot face scorn, mockery and derision of their beliefs when they try to preach them to non-believers.”

      Is this what you are saying Issac?

      Atheists need only to tolerate piety. A passive response.

      Believers need to tolerate scorn, mockery and derision. All of those are aggressive.

      Just trying to clear that up.

      1. Read it again. I did misunderstand.

    6. Coach Kennedy has every right to kneel on the 50 yard line and pray

      That seems unlikely.

      Can the school stop him from praying? Of course not. Can they say that prayer in a specific time and place is inappropriate? That gets to “reasonable accommodation”. In the case of Muslims, employers can say “no, you can’t just drop a prayer rug in the middle of the factory floor. Take it to the break room”. So I’m not sure it’s unfair for them to also say “no, you can’t just drop to your knees in the middle of the field, take it to the locker room”.

  9. The coercive exerciser thereof clearly needs to burn a heretic at the stake at the 50 yard line of a field he doesn’t own. THAT’d get those nine geezers to pay some attention to the unpopularity of the Inquisition and falling sales of ducking stools!

  10. Coach complaining about his free speech rights might have missed the part where he’s on the clock as a government employee and the 50-yard line is government property. Nobody can complain if he says a silent prayer on his own but what’s the point of making a public display of his praying if not proselytizing? This crap’s been through the courts dozens of times over the last 50 years or so – you can’t do this shit so knock it off already. You can’t display the Ten Commandments on the courthouse lawn nor a Nativity scene on public property either if you’re planning on that next.

    1. You sure as shit can display a nativity scene on public property. As long as you throw in a wise snowman bearing a gift and a baby reindeer or two it’s secular. Couple of giant candy canes couldn’t hurt either.

    2. He’s LARPing a martyr. Christians love that shit.

      1. Fuckin’ LOL at “libertarians” standing up for the sanctity government property to not be stained with a prayer.

        1. Well that’s not what I fucking said, is it? Dude took a job that, surprise surprise, came with a set of rules to follow. He chose to, very publicly, flout at least one of those rules, repeatedly. Makes one wonder what other policies this person thinks they are too holy to attend to, no?

          1. Yeah, that’s pretty much what you and Jerryskids said.

            Also fuckin’ LOL at “libertarians” getting sanctimonious about “following the rules,” especially when it comes to the government.

            Just because you hate religious people doesn’t make your intellectual inconsistency any less hilarious.

            1. I’ll a month’s pay that this coach has some sort of contract and he is violating it. You do understand how “libertarians” feel about contracts, don’t you? And I see you’re putting words in my mouth again. So the first time wasn’t a “mistake”. Suck my balls liar.

              1. I’ll a month’s pay that this coach has some sort of contract and he is violating it.

                Is it in his contract to not conduct a voluntary post-game prayer on government-owned land?

                And I see you’re putting words in my mouth again. So the first time wasn’t a “mistake”. Suck my balls liar.

                Your words, shithead:

                Coach Kennedy doesn’t own the land he is demonstrating his piety upon and doesn’t make the rules there. Presumably he is on the clock when his team is doing it’s thing and subject to the terms and conditions of employment, the policies and procedures of his employer, as well as ethical obligations as an agent of the state acting in loco parentis.

                Stop sticking up for daddy gubmint just because you hate Christians so much.

  11. His employment should be at the will of his employer. Wanna pray at work, you can always start your own church, or do it silently to yourself.

    1. Exactly. The thing is, starting a church is hard. Praying in public is easy. Praying silently to yourself is what the savior said to do. Where’s the payoff in that?

    2. Wanna pray at work, you can always start your own church

      Huh, so the free exercise of religion only applies in the home or a building permitted by the state in which to do so.

      Interesting hot takes here by gubmint-hating libertarians.

  12. I guess it’s a good thing Coach Kennedy’s religion doesn’t call for burnt offerings to demonstrate his belief in the supernatural because rights.

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  19. Sounds like the school wanted him to stop because they were worried about a lawsuit. He did not so they canned him and now they have a lawsuit.

    The lawyers win.

  20. If really just wanted to pray and not make a big deal out of it or catfish for a lawsuit he would have prayed in private.

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  22. It’s a clear violation of his rights, and the spineless Supreme Court demonstrated that they are only interested in supporting political correctness.

    If it was a faggot waving a rainbow flag that was fired his first amendment rights would be supported and the administration at the school fired after much public apology.

  23. Considering how outlets like CNN are airing “stories” that have been proven to be in error or flat out lies over and over, something should be done. Look how the media attempted to destroy the Covington boys, who we now know are innocent and it was Nathan Phillips who lied about what happened. The media had no regard for the long term damage to the boys lives their reporting might cause as long as it supported their narrative and attacks on the President.

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