- The Washington Times - Friday, March 6, 2020

The Washington state football coach fired by his high school for holding multiple prayer sessions on field with players once again came up empty in federal court.

Judge Ronald Leighton in Tacoma awarded summary judgment Thursday to Bremerton School District, forestalling a legal campaign by former assistant high school football coach Joseph Kennedy against the school who ordered him to stop praying with students.

The school district did not renew the assistant football coach’s contract after the 2015 season. Mr. Kennedy was suspended midway through the season after not complying with administrators’ requests to cease pausing from his teaching duties — including overseeing students — to pray silently with players at the 50-yard-line.

“We are disappointed in this decision, but we are undeterred in our mission to obtain justice for Coach Kennedy,” said Mike Berry, general counsel for First Liberty Institute, the organization defending Mr. Kennedy. “Joe has fought — first as a U.S. Marine, then as a coach — to prove that every American has the right to engage in individual religious expression, including praying in public, without fear of getting fired.”

In January, Mr. Kennedy was a guest of President Trump at an Oval Office event supporting prayer in public schools. A year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court denied to reverse a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision against Mr. Kennedy.

• Christopher Vondracek can be reached at cvondracek@washingtontimes.com.

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