After Supreme Court ruling Bremerton coach to be reinstated by March
Oct 26, 2022, 7:51 AM
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
After a big win at the U.S. Supreme Court, Joe Kennedy, a Bremerton assistant football coach, will get his wish and could return to coaching as soon as next spring.
Kennedy was put on paid leave and then later fired in 2015 when he went against the Bremerton School District’s warnings against praying with students at the 50-yard line following games, sparking a Supreme Court case that would eventually rule in his favor.
After the ruling, Washington State Superintendent Chris Reykdal commented on the decision saying, “this ruling affirms that right, but it also retains the long-held understanding that church and state (public entities) are separate. Schools will not embrace a particular faith or compel any individual to participate or recognize any faith or religious practice.”
Now Kennedy has to be reinstated to his former position before March 15, 2023, according to a ruling from a U.S. District Court, which also requires that the school district pays for his attorneys’ fees and costs.
The district will be changing its policies to reflect the ruling to allow for Kennedy’s post-game ritual and must not “interfere with or prohibit Kennedy from offering a prayer.”
This is precisely the outcome he was hoping for when in an interview on the Dori Monson Show in June, Kennedy said that all he wanted was “just to be able to be a football coach and to thank God afterward.” The former coach called his prayers a “personal thing” with players who “happened” to join me.
“When the school district said to ‘stop,’ I immediately stopped. But I wasn’t doing anything wrong, and the court has ruled in my favor: you can be a coach, and it’s okay for you to pray alone,” Kennedy continued.
Some of the wording of the ruling has been disputed by the school district, and both the district and Kennedy have been ordered to file a joint submission on the language of the final order for the case by Nov. 8.