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Coach Kennedy loses 9th Circuit appeal to pray in public

by Leigh Jones
Posted 8/23/17, 03:28 pm

Former Bremerton, Wash., high school football coach Joe Kennedy lost his appeal today at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled he did not have a right to pray at the 50-yard line after games. A three-judge panel of the court, known for liberal rulings, said Kennedy’s prayers did not amount to constitutionally protected free speech because he was acting as a public employee when he offered them. “By kneeling and praying on the 50-yard line immediately after games while in view of students and parents, Kennedy was sending a message about what he values as a coach, what the district considers appropriate behavior, and what students should believe, or how they ought to behave,” Judge Milan Smith wrote in the majority opinion. Smith went on to claim Kennedy “took advantage of his position” to push his faith on “impressionable and captive minds.” Kennedy, who served in the U.S. Marines and was a part-time coach, began his post-game prayer routine in 2007. The short prayers soon attracted large groups of students and parents—and the attention of school district officials who ordered him in 2015 to stop. When he refused, he lost his job. He sued nearly a year later.

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Leigh Jones

Leigh lives in Houston with her husband and daughter. She is the news editor for The World and Everything in It and reports on education for WORLD Digital.

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  •  Uff Da's picture
    Uff Da
    Posted: Wed, 08/23/2017 03:55 pm

    ...and if Coach Kennedy wanted to host a transgender support group at the 50 yard line that would be protected speech.

    Liberals value free speech quite highly, until that speech does not agree with their values.  Values that come from who knows where.

  •  Uff Da's picture
    Uff Da
    Posted: Wed, 08/23/2017 03:57 pm

    I hope parents and players still organize a prayer time after games for those that want to participate.

  • Sean McGrew's picture
    Sean McGrew
    Posted: Wed, 08/23/2017 04:21 pm

    The 9th District Court of Appeals has been overturned by the US Supreme Court 79% of the time. This will be another one. Quoting from the Alliance Defending Freedom site about a different but similar case:

    “Teachers and other public school employees do not leave their constitutionally protected freedoms at the schoolhouse gate,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “There’s no legitimate basis for schools to prohibit their employees from engaging in expression outside of school hours or from showing respect for students’ religious expression while at school. The Americans United letter is simply inaccurate and reflects their agenda of cleansing all things religious from the public square.”

    As the ADF letter explains, “Courts have repeatedly held that a school’s faculty and staff have certain constitutional rights to engage and participate in religious expression before and after their contracted work times without violating the Establishment Clause.”

    The Supreme Court of the United States should make fast work of this egregious violation of Coach Kennedy's constitutionally protected rights.

  • JerryM
    Posted: Wed, 08/23/2017 06:21 pm

    One wonders how Milan and the other liberal justices keep their jobs if they had such a dismal success rate (yes, I understand the nature of their appointment)?  If this were the business world (or "real" work world) they would have been shown the door.  It can be seen as a high-end welfare benefit system with the government paying for work that "occupies" these judges.

  • TH
    Posted: Wed, 08/23/2017 05:21 pm

    In light of the rulling - Will Colin Kapernick be judged under the same light - an employee who chose to exercise his right to free speech and " was sending a message about what he values as a coach, what the district considers appropriate behavior, and what students should believe, or how they ought to behave,”   This is why our country is in trouble!  Obvious double standard and liberal bias!

  • David Russell
    Posted: Wed, 08/23/2017 05:32 pm

    Please take this to the Supreme Court, Coach.  Keep fighting for our rights.

  • Kimon Nicolaides III's picture
    Kimon Nicolaides III
    Posted: Wed, 08/23/2017 06:54 pm

    These judges are nut case. They should have been relieved of duty for incompetence years ago. Why does not the Congress enact legislation to protect the rights of its citizen from judges which are suffering, as these clearly do, from significant signs of dementia and have them removed from the court where they can do no more harm?

  •  Paul B. Taylor's picture
    Paul B. Taylor
    Posted: Wed, 09/27/2017 09:58 pm

    We've lost our foundation in religion: we are out of bounds of the U.S. Constitution: we have incurred too large a debt.  How do we save America?  What people who believe in community values don't understand is the importance of individual talent and achievement in the political and social sphere.  Our priority is to believe in Americans who can serve America in ways that are extraordinary and, frankly, fun to witness.  We must rely on real Americans who can defeat those who rely on community for a good nation.  It is the new American that will save our democracy.  It is the new American who will rise to the challenge even when facing possible devastating failure.  Let us look to the past glory of this great nation, and then find new glory in the saving work of the new American.  God bless America: let us pray for His blessing.