BREMERTON, Wash. — The school district here was within its rights five years ago when it in 2015 fired a high school football coach who refused to stop praying on the gridiron after games, a federal judge ruled last month.
U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Leighton on March 5 determined former Bremerton High assistant football coach Joe Kennedy’s religious rights were not violated. According to Leighton, the school district’s right to restrict public religious expression on its property outweighs Kennedy’s right to free religious expression.
Kennedy’s attorney, Mike Berry of Texas-based First Liberty Institute, told the Kitsap Sun newspaper of Bremerton that the ruling will be appealed. Karen Bevers, a spokeswoman for the school district, acknowledged that the judge’s decision is subject to an appeal.
Last month’s action was the latest in a series of decisions against Kennedy. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Kennedy’s appeal of a lower court’s upholding the school’s decision. His legal team pressed forward in the district court, citing questions the High Court left open.