U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on The Constitution, and James Lankford (R-Okla.) filed an amicus brief signed by 11 other Senators and 14 Representatives in support of Coach Joe Kennedy in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District. The brief asks the Supreme Court to reverse the Ninth Circuit’s decision that allowed Coach Kennedy to be fired for silently kneeling and praying after school football games. U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) is co-leading the brief for the House. Senate co-signers include Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and John Thune (R-S.D.).

In the brief, the members wrote:

“This Court’s review is urgently needed to correct the Ninth Circuit’s clearly erroneous interpretation of the Establishment Clause that upheld Respondent’s firing of Kennedy and obliterates the Free Exercise rights of public school teachers and coaches. The immediate and cascading effects of this case can scarcely be overstated—if the Ninth Circuit’s holding is left to stand, certain school districts will be emboldened (and others will feel compelled) to curtail the Free Exercise and Speech rights of half a million public school teachers and coaches who work in Ninth Circuit jurisdictions, while seriously threatening those rights for the three million teachers and coaches in other circuits nationwide.

“According to the Ninth Circuit, teachers’ and coaches’ speech degrades into unprotected government speech the moment they step through the schoolhouse gate and engage in ‘expression . . . during a time when [they are] generally tasked with communicating with students’—meaning any time during school hours or functions.

“Perhaps realizing that position is indefensible, the Ninth Circuit doubles down by concluding that even if Kennedy’s speech is private and protected, the Establishment Clause still requires the School District to shut it down and punish him to avoid the perception that it ‘endorsed’ Kennedy’s religious beliefs . . . Under this expansive legal theory, any private religious expression by a teacher or coach violates the Establishment Clause and requires the school’s immediate and decisive action to stop it—all because there’s a chance that someone might think that the School District endorses the otherwise private religious expression. But that theory, of course, contradicts both the Establishment Clause’s purpose and this Court’s precedent.

“The Establishment Clause was enacted to protect the religious practice and expression of individuals and minorities from the preferences of majority rule, whether that majority be theist or atheist. The drafters never intended to eradicate religiosity in public life—whether in the form of prayer or any other expression. But the Ninth Circuit’s approach falsely pits the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses against each other in a zero-sum game.”

One thought on “Senators defend constitutional rights of coach fired for praying

  1. I have, like many, pondered why some people are so against the idea that we were all created, and that as such, we have the hope of eternal life. Also, we have the hope of help in this life.

    Like

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