WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Supreme Court will hear a case next week that could determine whether prayer returns to public schools. The case centers on a football coach who regularly prayed on the field after games.
“At the center of this case is really the right of Coach Kennedy and really the right of all Americans,” First Liberty Attorney Mike Berry said.
The case focuses on Joe Kennedy, a former high school football coach in Washington state, who would pray on the 50 yard-line after games.
“Just give a personal prayer of thanksgiving for the opportunity to be a coach, and for that, he lost his job,” Berry said.
Berry says the school wrongfully fired Kennedy over his personal, private faith. Kennedy sued back in 2015 and a federal district court ruled in favor of the school.
Kennedy and his lawyers argue that this ruling could impact anyone who wants to visibly express their faith, no matter what religion.
“We as Americans should be able to enjoy the right to live out our faith freely and openly regardless of who our employer happens to be,” Berry said.
Rachel Laser’s organization, Americans United, is defending the school district. She argues there was nothing private about how the coach prayed.
“This is the coach and he’s praying holding up a football helmet, encircled by students. You are not allowed to pray in your public official capacity in such that students would feel pressured to join you,” Laser said.
Laser says if the Supreme Court should rule in the former coach’s favor, “it puts at risk the religious freedom of students and their families in every k-12 classroom across the country.”
The court will hear from the lawyers on Monday with a decision likely this summer.