In oral arguments before the court in April, Richard B. Katskee, a lawyer representing the Bremerton School District, argued that Kennedy’s actions as a coach pressured students to pray.
“No one doubts that public school employees can have quiet prayers by themselves at work even if students can see,” Katskee said. But Kennedy, he said, “insisted on audible prayers at the 50-yard line with students.”
The Bremerton School District’s brief complained that Kennedy prayed “while on duty” and claimed that the practice “could be coercive.” The district maintains that it tried to “accommodate” Kennedy by suggesting, among other things, that he pray in the press box away from the rest of the team.
Paul D. Clement, Kennedy's attorney, disagreed.
“When Coach Kennedy took a knee at the midfield after games to say a brief prayer of thanks, his expression was entirely his own,” he said during oral arguments. “That private religious expression was doubly protected by the free exercise and free speech clauses.”
Both sides respond to court ruling
The Bremerton School District reacted to the Supreme Court's Monday ruling.
“In light of the court’s decision, we will work with our attorneys to make certain that the Bremerton School District remains a welcoming, inclusive environment for all students, their families and our staff,” it said in a press statement. “We look forward to moving past the distraction of this 7-year legal battle so that our school community can focus on what matters most: providing our children the best education possible.”
Kennedy likewise responded to the decision Monday.
“This is just so awesome,” he expressed in a press release. “All I’ve ever wanted was to be back on the field with my guys. I am incredibly grateful to the Supreme Court, my fantastic legal team, and everyone who has supported us. I thank God for answering our prayers and sustaining my family through this long battle.”
This is a developing story.
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