AG Paxton Proud of His Agency’s Religious Freedom Work Wins U.S. Supreme Court

Attorney General Ken Paxton celebrated a major victory for religious freedom as the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of Coach Joseph Kennedy’s lawsuit against a school district that fired him for being being engaged in public prayer after football games at Bremerton High School in Washington state – sometimes including athletes who wished to participate. The school district claimed Coach Kennedy’s on-field prayers violated the First Amendment.

In October 2021, Attorney General Paxton and a coalition of 22 other states urged the Supreme Court to overturn the erroneous decision against Coach Kennedy rendered by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit based in San Francisco. The Supreme Court granted the petition and, in March 2022, Texas co-led a multi-state amicus brief with Arizona, Alaska and Florida in support of the merits of the Coach Kennedy case.

Just yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Coach Kennedy in line with Attorney General Paxton’s arguments laid out in his brief: “The Freedom of Practice and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect expressions like Mr. Kennedy’s,” Justice Gorsuch wrote for the majority. “The Constitution and the best of our traditions advise mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and repression, for religious and non-religious views.”

“Coach Kennedy was doing what high school football coaches across the country do: praying a prayer of thanksgiving on the field,” Attorney General Paxton said. “I am delighted that the Supreme Court ruled that nothing about this violated the US Constitution. My prayer is that more coaches now feel free to exercise their First Amendment rights, as Coach Kennedy did.

Read Supreme Court Opinion 6-3 here.

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