NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
Former Bremerton High School football coach Joe Kennedy said his heart was pounding and his hands were sweating when the Supreme Court ruled in his case against the school district that fired him for post-game prayers.
Kennedy had lost his lower court decisions against the Washington school district, which believed that as a public school employee, he could not pray on the field, even just after games. On Monday, the Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s decision, ruling that the school violated Kennedy’s First Amendment rights.
“It’s like you just won a football game,” Kennedy told Fox News in an interview after the ruling.
The former coach remembered his struggle and said it was worth it. He remembered telling his players never to give up fighting for what was right.
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL COACH SCORT BIG WIN ON HIGHEST COURT ON PRAYER AFTER GAME
“I would be the world’s biggest hypocrite if I didn’t keep fighting this,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy also said he was trained as a naval veteran to defend the Constitution.
“The First Amendment applies equally to all Americans,” he said. “It applies to everyone.”
On the other side of that argument, Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent said Kennedy’s prayers may have led players to feel compelled to join because they wanted him to give them playing time. This also emerged during pleadings.
“They brought that up out of nowhere, who knows where,” Kennedy said. “If someone had a problem with something, we were so close that we just talked about things. And we respect each other. Bremerton is the most diverse school. Do you know that whole thing about diversity and inclusion? Well, that goes for everyone. People of faith, people of no faith, different religions, it doesn’t matter.”
Kennedy insisted that if the players didn’t want to do it, they didn’t have to.
“That was never a big problem,” he said.
HIGH COURT DOES NOT GO IN ‘SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE’ IN PRAYER MATTER FOOTBALL COACH: JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR
Joseph Kennedy’s departure as an assistant coach at Bremerton High School in 2015 made headlines nationwide. (First Freedom)
In the course of the case, however, it emerged that there had been a complaint from the parent of an atheist student who said he felt compelled to join.
During the interview, Kelley Shackelford, president of the First Liberty Institute representing Kennedy, acknowledged that over eight years of praying on the field, two students came forward and said they were uncomfortable.
“He made them captains in the end,” Shackelford said.
Kennedy stressed that player discomfort “was never an issue,” and indeed, that was not the issue in the Supreme Court decision. After the school district told Kennedy to stop praying with students, he did. Instead, he prayed alone in the field while the students sang the school fight song.
The school district still had a problem with this and fired him after he went through with it.
“They kept pushing the goalposts on him,” said Shackelford.
The court’s ruling clarified that the decision was based solely on Kennedy’s actions in those last games, where he prayed alone without the students.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
Now that the case is over, Kennedy is grateful for the support he has received from others.
“This is a win for everyone in America,” he said.