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High school football coach in Supreme Court prayer case resigns after first game comeback

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Washington – Washington State High School football coach who was at center Supreme Court dispute Because of his post-match prayers, he resigned, days after returning to coach his first game since his victory at Supreme Court.

Joseph Kennedy, the assistant coach for the Bremerton High School football team, announced his resignation, effective immediately, in statement Posted on their website. He said he gave multiple reasons for his decision to step down, including caring for a sick family member in Florida, where Kennedy and his family have moved.

“As I have made clear, we must take a stand for what we believe in. In my case, I took a kneeling stance,” he said. “I encourage all Americans to take their stand for freedom and our right to express our faith as we see fit. I appreciate the people of Bremerton, the coaches, the staff, and especially the students, and wish them all well. Bremerton will always be at home.”

In Kennedy’s resignation letter, distributed by the First Liberty Institute, the conservative legal organization representing him, the former coach expressed his gratitude to the coaches, players and parents at Bremerton High School, but wrote that it was “in everyone’s interest that I step back.” training.”

He wrote, “To be on the field again and to pray is all I ever wanted. I am proud of my determination to achieve this goal.” “However, it is evident that my reinstatement of employment ordered by the Supreme Court will not be fully implemented following a series of actions intended to diminish my role and discriminate against me in what I can only believe is retaliation by the school district. Therefore, I am offering my immediate resignation.” .

The Bremerton School District confirmed that it has received Kennedy’s resignation, which is pending approval by the school board at a Thursday meeting. The district said it would not release any additional statements, as it “does not comment on personnel matters.”

“His family’s health situation is grave and he and his family are in our thoughts and prayers,” Hiram Sasser, executive general counsel of the First Liberty Institute, said in a statement.

Sasser said in a subsequent statement that the organization became aware of “serious allegations of retaliation against” Kennedy by the Bremerton school district, which he said “did everything it could to make him feel unwelcome. We will investigate the situation to determine if further action is necessary.” legal.”

Kennedy began praying after football games at Bremerton High School in 2008 and continued the practice until 2015, when the school district learned of his postgame prayers. He was eventually placed on administrative leave by the district for violating guidelines regarding his prayers in midfield, and Kennedy chose not to reapply for his coaching position.

He filed a lawsuit in August 2016, claiming that the Bremerton school district violated his First Amendment rights, and lost in the lower courts. But the Supreme Court ruled in Kennedy’s favor in June 2022, finding that the First Amendment to the Constitution protected his personal religious observances from government retaliation.

“The Constitution and our best traditions call for mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, of both religious and non-religious viewpoints,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the six-judge majority.

Kennedy was reinstated as assistant coach in March after his years-long legal battle ended, and he returned to the soccer field on Friday for his first game back. After the match ended, he walked alone to the center of the field and knelt to pray.

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