Bloomberg Law
March 6, 2020, 8:01 PM

Praying Football Coach’s Free Speech, Job Bias Claims Fail

Patrick Dorrian
Patrick Dorrian

A Washington school district didn’t violate the U.S. Constitution or federal job bias law when it placed a high school football coach on administrative leave for refusing to stop praying at midfield after his team’s games, a federal court ruled.

Joseph Kennedy’s First Amendment retaliation claim against Bremerton School District failed because his prayers weren’t constitutionally protected, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington said Thursday. The “50-yard-line of a football field,” like the front of a class room, “is an expressive focal point from which school-sanctioned communications regularly emanate,” it said.

That meant Kennedy’s praying was ...

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