Kennedy v. Bremerton School District

597 U.S. 507, 142 S. Ct. 2407, 213 L.Ed.2d 755 (2022)

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Kennedy v. Bremerton School District

United States Supreme Court
597 U.S. 507, 142 S. Ct. 2407, 213 L.Ed.2d 755 (2022)

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Facts

Joseph Kennedy (plaintiff) was a football coach in Bremerton School District (the district) (defendant). In compliance with his sincere religious beliefs, Kennedy kneeled and said a prayer on the field after games. Over time, some players voluntarily joined him. The district became concerned that Kennedy’s conduct was a government endorsement of religion violating the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. Consequently, the district forbade Kennedy from engaging in any overt acts that would appear to endorse prayer while on duty. In three subsequent games, Kennedy prayed, once bowing his head and twice kneeling. Each time, his team was otherwise engaged in postgame activities. After the season, the district placed Kennedy on forced leave and recommended against rehiring him, citing his failures to follow district policy and properly supervise players after games. Kennedy sued the district, alleging violations of the First Amendment’s Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses. The district court and court of appeals held in the district’s favor. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gorsuch, J.)

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