Skip to main content

Breaking: Supreme Court Rules On High School Football Coach Case

a shot of a high school football field in new jersey

(Photo by Jeff Fusco/Getty Images for Reebok)

In the latest controversial Supreme Court decision, SCOTUS sided with a Washington state high school football coach who lost his job for leading a team prayer at the 50-yard line after games.

The court reportedly voted 6-3 in the coach's favor. Citing that his prayer was protected by the country's First Amendment rights.

“The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike,” Justice Neil Gorsuch said of the ruling.

This case is the latest to grapple with the separation of church and state. Something that a segment of the population sees as pressuring students into participating in religious practices that they may not hold or be a part of.

Coach Joseph Kennedy of Bremerton High School initially prayed alone at the 50-yard line at the conclusion of games dating back to 2008. But was later joined by students over the years, which evolved into Kennedy sharing faith-based, inspirational messages with athletes that wished to participate.

Kennedy also led locker room prayers but was asked to stop when the school district learned what he was doing in 2015. Bremerton reportedly tried to work out a way for the coach to pray privately before and after the game, but asked him to stop the practice of prayer while still "on-duty."

However, he continued to kneel at the 50, and was put on paid leave by the school.

The Supreme Court's ruling isn't terribly surprising given four members of the conservative majority said that a lower court ruling in favor of the school district was "troubling" back in 2019.

Speaking for the liberal minority of the court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote:

"It elevates one individual's interest in personal religious exercise, in the exact time and place of that individual's choosing, over society's interest in protecting the separation between church and state, eroding the protections for religious liberty for all."

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