24 attorneys general ask Supreme Court to side with coach fired for praying on field

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Coach Joe Kennedy/ Facebook

Not telling dirty jokes on the job, not screaming and yelling, not threatening people — these are all rational limits on free speech in the workplace.

But praying? Expressing one’s faith out loud in a way and at a time when it will distract no one? Why should anyone lose their job for praying?

That is what happened to a high school football coach in Washington state who was fired for praying on the field.

Now two dozen Republican attorneys general are urging the Supreme Court to “uphold the constitutional rights” of the former coach, Joe Kennedy of Bremerton, Wash., FOX News reports.

Led by the attorneys general of Arizona, Texas and Alaska, the group filed an amicus brief on Oct. 19 asking the high court to review a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling earlier this year that Bremerton School District lawfully fired Joe Kennedy when he defied their command not to pray.

“Americans do not abandon their religious liberties at the door of their workplace,” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a statement. “Especially at this moment in our country’s history, it is imperative that heavy-handed government be restrained from trampling on our rights to personal expression as recognized and protected by the First Amendment.”

The brief states that the Ninth Circuit’s ruling defies well-established precedent and threatens First Amendment rights, and will create further problems for public employers and workers.

Kennedy was suspended and then terminated in 2015 after he ignored a school district order to end prayer sessions after games. The practice had begun with him silently praying on the field, and then players joined in.

Represented by First Liberty Institute, the retired Marine Corps gunnery sergeant said in February on FOX News’ “America Reports”:

“The First Amendment really means a lot to me, and it is really terrible today in America that somebody can be fired just for expressing their faith. So I am just fighting so that no one else ever has to go through this and doesn’t have to choose between their job and their faith.”

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