After being fired for refusing to obey an order to stop praying – and even though the United States Supreme Court has declined an opportunity to review that decision -- the attorneys of a Washington State high school football coach are assuring that it's not game over.
"The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take on the coach Joe Kennedy appeal, for now, and that is because they said that although they disagree with the 9th Circuit's ruling, they need more facts to be developed before the case is ready for the Supreme Court to take," explained attorney Mike Berry of First Liberty Institute – the organization representing Coach Kennedy, according to a news release issued on case’s developments.
Kennedy's case began in 2015 when he was head coach for the Bremerton High School junior varsity football team and an assistant coach for the varsity team.
The Bremerton School District ordered Kennedy to stop praying after games, as was his custom. When Kennedy continued praying after games, the district suspended him and eventually refused to renew his contract – resulting in the termination of his coaching career.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the school district's actions.
"I've seen a lot of media reports and hot takes saying that this is it, it's game-over," Berry commented on the Supreme Court's decision not to hear the case. "Nothing could be further from the truth. We're absolutely still alive, and we intend and plan to continue to fight on for coach Kennedy and for religious liberty."
Berry also mentioned that First Liberty was pleasantly surprised to see four justices of the Supreme Court issue a statement saying they disagree with the 9th Circuit.
"They need some additional questions answered – I guess is the best way to put it – so we look forward to getting those questions resolved and insuring that the record has sufficient facts so that this court can address this issue," the attorney added.
Meanwhile, Berry insists that this case is about more than just a Marine-turned-football coach from Bremerton, Washington.
"If what the Bremerton School District did, and what the 9th Circuit said was perfectly fine for the school district to do – and that is to fire a public school employee simply because he wanted to take a 15- to 30-second silent moment of silence or prayer by himself after the football games – and they fired him for that … if that is allowed to stand, that would strip tens of thousands of Americans from their most basic constitutional rights," Berry argued. "We can't let that stand, and at First Liberty we're going to fight."