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Praying coach lining up 2nd shot at school that fired him - WND
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A public school football coach in Bremerton, Washington, says he's looking forward to a second shot at a school district that fired him for praying on the field after games – after his case was returned by the U.S. Supreme Court to the district court that originally ruled in the fight.
The high court, coach Joe Kennedy told "Fox & Friends" on Friday, "gave me another set of downs and a path forward in getting my rights back."
He, and First Liberty Institute lawyer Mike Berry, part of the team that worked on Kennedy's case, say they hope the fight will end up at the Supreme Court again, in order to protect the rights of coaches and others all across the country.
Berry told Fox, "The Supreme Court said there were unresolved questions and we're getting answers. We look forward to taking Coach Kennedy's case back up to the Supreme Court, if necessary, and restore this man's rights. He fought for our country in the Marine Corps. They didn't teach him how to quit in the Marines and we're not going to quit."
Kennedy pointed out the significance of religious rights for all.
The fight, he said, is "for the Constitution and the rights of all Americans. They've taken my rights away so somebody's got to stand up and fight."
WND reported on the Supreme Court's actions last winter.
At that time, the justices declined to take the case, but it wasn't because it wasn't important.
Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justices Thomas, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, said he was watching the rulings from the 9th Circuit, through which the Kennedy case went, because its judges' "understanding of the free speech rights of public school teachers is troubling and may justify review in the future."
Kennedy's case had too many "unresolved factual questions" for it to be used effectively, Alito said. For example, the school district provided several different excuses for punishing Kennedy.
"I concur in the denial of the petition for a writ of certiorari because denial of certiorari does not signify that the court necessarily agrees with the decision (much less the opinion) below," Alito wrote. "In this case, important unresolved factual questions would make it very difficult if not impossible at this stage to decide the free speech question that the petition asks us to review."
The opinion noted Kennedy claims he engaged in conduct that was protected by the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.
"The key question, therefore, is whether petitioner showed that he was likely to prevail on his claim that the termination of his employment violated his free speech rights, and in order to answer that question it is necessary to ascertain what he was likely to be able to prove regarding the basis for the school's action."
But the opinion said that's "far from clear."
Not only was the district judge far from clear, the 9th Circuit was worse, the justices wrote.
"If this case were before us as an appeal within our mandatory jurisdiction, our clear obligation would be to vacate the decision below with instructions that the case be remanded to the district court for proper application of the test for a preliminary injunction, including a finding on the question of the reason or reasons for petitioner's loss of employment. But the question before us is different. It is whether we should grant discretionary review, and we generally do not grant such a review to decide highly fact-specific questions."
The opinion said, "Here, although petitioner's free speech claim may ultimately implicate important constitutional issues, we cannot reach those issues until the factual question of the likely reason for the school district's conduct is resolved."
The justices said, "While I thus concur in the denial of the present petition, the 9th Circuit's understanding of the free speech rights of public school teachers is troubling and may justify review in the future."
"What is perhaps most troubling about the 9th Circuit's opinion is language that can be understood to mean that a coach's duty to serve as a good role model requires the coach to refrain from any manifestation of religious faith – even when the coach is plainly not on duty. I hope that this is not the message that the 9th Circuit meant to convey, but its opinion can certainly be read that way."
It noted that the petitioner still has "live claims" under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The case was returned to district court for resolution of the Supreme Court's concerns.
"The Supreme Court seems to understand that banning all coaches from praying just because they can be seen is wrong and contradicts the Constitution," said Kelly Shackelford, president of First Liberty, which is representing the coach.
Kennedy has had public support from individuals ranging from President Trump and Franklin Graham to Hall of Fame football coach Bobby Bowden.
LIBERTY HAS NO EXPIRATION DATEDemocrats wouldn't buy a clue if it was government subsidized.
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