A Washington state high school football coach who won a Supreme Court case in 2022 after he lost his job for praying at the 50-yard line after games has resigned from his position.
The nation’s top court ruled the Bremerton School District violated coach Joe Kennedy’s First Amendment rights, saying prayers amounted to private speech and could not be restricted by the school district.
On Wednesday, Kennedy announced his resignation on his website, saying multiple reasons factored into his decision, including taking care of an ailing family member out of state.
“I believe I can best continue to advocate for constitutional freedom and religious liberty by working from outside the school system so that is what I will do,” Kennedy said. “I will continue to work to help people understand and embrace the historic ruling at the heart of our case. As a result of our case, we all have more freedom, not less. That should be celebrated and not disrespected.”
“As I have demonstrated, we must make a stand for what we believe in,” he continued. “In my case, I made a stand to take a knee. I encourage all Americans to make their own stand for freedom and our right to express our faith as we see fit.”
The Bremerton School District issued a statement on Wednesday about the resignation.
“The District has received Mr. Kennedy’s resignation and it is pending board approval at tomorrow’s regularly scheduled meeting,” the statement said. “The District does not comment on personnel matters, so we will not be issuing any further statements.”
Kennedy had coached one game before his decision to step down, the First Liberty Institute, which represented Kennedy, told CNN.
His case before the Supreme Court was decided in a 6-3 vote along conservative-liberal ideological lines.
The coach began his prayer ritual soon after he was hired in 2008, but the school district grew concerned when Kennedy’s short, quiet prayers grew in 2015 as players began joining him on the field all while the crowd was still in the stands, CNN previously reported.
The school district said it never restricted him from offering silent, private prayers, and offered him an alternate place to pray off the football field after games. Kennedy refused the accommodations and was ultimately placed on paid administrative leave and suspended from the program. After the season, he was given a poor performance evaluation.
He did not seek a new contract, but instead filed suit, arguing that the school district had violated his rights under the First Amendment.
CNN’s Ariane de Vogue, Tierney Sneed and Devan Cole contributed to this report.