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.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Former Washington, D. C., correspondent Katie Yoder covered pro-life issues, the U.S. Catholic bishops, public policy, and Congress for Catholic News Agency. She previously worked for Townhall.com, National Review, and the Media Research Center.