by Jim Clayborn | RNN
A former public high school football coach in Washington state who famously lost his job for leading prayers on the field after games will be reinstated by the spring of next year, court documents show.
A joint stipulation filed in Washington state district court on Tuesday by attorneys representing Joseph Kennedy and lawyers for Bremerton School District stated that “Kennedy is to be reinstated to his previous position as assistant coach of the Bremerton High School football team on or before March 15, 2023.”
Kennedy’s attorney, Jeremy Dys, confirmed to ABC News that the coach will be moving back to Bremerton, Washington, from Florida later this year to return to his part-time job with the team. It’s expected he’d take the field again for the fall 2023 football season.
The United States Supreme Court sided with Kennedy in June, when justices ruled 6-3 that the coach was protected by the Constitution when he knelt and prayed aloud at the 50-yard-line post-game, sometimes with his players.
For years, lower courts had repeatedly sided with Bremerton School District in the case. The Supreme Court reversal in favor of Kennedy could soon expand the ability of government employees nationwide to practice their faiths more openly while on the job, according to legal experts.
“This is a right for everybody. It doesn’t matter if you’re this religion or that religion or have no faith whatsoever,” Kennedy told ABC News during an interview earlier this year. “Everybody has the same rights in America.”
The First Amendment protects free speech and free exercise of religion, but it also prohibits the establishment of religion by the government. Prior to the ruling in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, the Supreme Court had long said that public school-sponsored prayer violates the Establishment Clause, even if the prayer is voluntary.
Kennedy and his attorneys at First Liberty Institute, a Texas-based Christian legal group, filed suit against the Bremerton School District after he was suspended seven years ago over the midfield prayers and his contract was not renewed. He insisted the prayers were brief, private individual acts of faith, while the school district argued that student participation breached constitutional prohibitions against the promotion of religion by government officials.
Kennedy had routinely prayed on the field after games for more than seven years, attracting varying levels of participation from students. He said the ritual typically lasted less than a minute.
“It was my covenant between me and God that after every game, win or lose, I’m going to do it right there on the field of battle,” he told ABC News.
Here’s an interview with Coach Kennedy back in June: