Supreme Court appears to side with football coach suspended for praying

During oral arguments before the Supreme Court on Monday, the nation’s high court appeared prepared to side with a football coach who was suspended for praying on the field.

According to the Washington Free Beacon, Joe Kennedy is challenging a 2015 suspension by the Bremerton School District in Washington state after he prayed with players after a game.

Kennedy sued, saying the voluntary prayer session was protected by the First Amendment.

The school district, meanwhile, claimed Kennedy’s actions were motivated by a desire for attention.

However, during Monday’s oral arguments, the conservative majority on the court seemed to be skeptical of the district’s rationale for suspending the coach for continuing to pray.

In his questioning, Justice Brett Kavanaugh noted that a coach would have some difficulty doing anything discreetly during a football game, mooting their characterization of Kennedy as being an “attention-seeker.”

Meanwhile, Justice Samuel Alito questioned the district’s rationale for suspending Kennedy, which they said included promoting a midfield prayer at the 2015 homecoming game to the point where it became a spectacle. Kennedy’s lawyers, on the other hand, pointed out the district noted two less-conspicuous prayer sessions during October games as their reason for firing Kennedy.

“As much as the district would like to change the subject, the record is clear that Coach Kennedy was fired for that midfield prayer, not for any earlier practices,” said Paul Clement, representing Kennedy during Monday’s arguments.

“Alito repeatedly asked Robert Katskee, who represented the district, to elaborate on the district’s reasons for suspending the coach,” the Free Beacon reported.

“In employment discrimination cases like Kennedy’s, Alito argued, everything turns on the employer’s stated reasons for penalizing the employee. Additional reasons — like the run-up to the decisive October games — don’t matter. Katskee was evasive.”

That signaled to many that some of the court’s liberals would join with its conservatives in delivering a narrow decision based on the manner in which Kennedy was dismissed as opposed to a sweeping statement about school prayer.

“Alito asked if an ordained minister could coach a high school team. Sotomayor wondered if teachers could pray between classes, when they’re supposed to answer questions and supervise students. Kavanaugh pressed about a coach who makes the sign of the cross at the start of a game,” the Free Beacon reported.

And retiring Justice Stephen Breyer noted this could “be a case about facts and not really much about law.”

Kennedy told Fox News that, if the court ruled in his favor, he would be more than happy to take his old job back.

“In a heartbeat,” he said. “I would be there within 24 hours.”