McKenna: ‘Real chance’ Bremerton coach could prevail in SCOTUS case over praying at games
With the U.S. Supreme Court set to hear the case of former Bremerton High School football coach Joe Kennedy, former Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna spoke to KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross to discuss how the legal battle might play out.
A previous ruling from the Ninth Circuit District Court stated that the Bremerton School District had not violated Kennedy’s religious and free speech rights when they told him not to pray with students after games on the football field.
After the school decided not to renew his contract, a years-long court battle ensued, beginning with Kennedy suing the school district in an attempt to get reinstated. After losing in district court, he filed his lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court in 2019.
Justices declined to hear the case, ruling that while some of them did not necessarily agree with the lower court’s ruling, the case would be difficult to continue on factual grounds. The Supreme Court then reversed course last week, announcing its decision to hear Kennedy’s case after all.
When Kennedy first petitioned the Supreme Court in 2019, McKenna was skeptical of Kennedy’s chances — now, he’s not so sure.
“I do think there’s a real chance he could prevail here,” he opined.
McKenna points to how “the view of the facts is very different depending on whether you’re Coach Kennedy or the school district.” While Kennedy claims that participation in his post-game prayers was voluntary, the district argues that students could have felt pressured or coerced.
The case in front of the Supreme Court could very well hinge on what side of that question justices fall on.
“If the court agrees based on the record that everyone was participating voluntarily — students, coaches and others — I think he’s got a real leg to stand on here,” McKenna said.
- Tune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.