SCOTUS Rules in Favor of High School Coach Fired for Prayer
27 Jun 2022
BUCK: Let’s start with this case that just came down on school prayer, Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, and this is a pretty straightforward one. This is a pretty clear case, I think, in many respects. You had a high school football coach — who, by the way, served two decades in the Marine Corps. You had a high school football coach who, starting in 2008, after the game, would kneel down in prayer, silent prayer. Nothing coercive, didn’t invite anyone, didn’t say, “Hey, team, we have to go pray.”
I coached high school athletics. I know the routine here. I know what this is like and the schedule and the bond you form with your players — and I also went to a Jesuit school, so we had church before soccer; we had church after soccer. It was very different, but this is a public cool, and so he would kneel down, and he would say a silent prayer. And he did this for years. And no one had a problem with it. No one had a problem with it at all, until another coach saw this individual, Coach Kennedy.
Because other players understood what was going on, and they chose of their own volition to take a knee alongside Coach Kennedy in a 30-second quiet prayer of thanks. That’s it, and this other — this other coach, I believe it was, might have been a parent. But it was another adult brought this up to the school superintendent to praise it, actually, to say, “Oh, isn’t that great? Isn’t that cool? Your coach takes a knee after the game in silent prayer, and other players decide to join. Isn’t that such a nice situation.”
And the school superintendent completely flipped out and said, “You can’t do this anymore. And if you keep doing it, then we’re gonna put you on paid leave,” and eventually he was fired. So, a coach in America is fired… Remember, this is after the game is finished. He’s effectively on his own time but on school property saying a silent prayer, 30 seconds long, and he never said other players should do it. He said it’s a free country. You may take a knee alongside me if you choose to do so. Almost all of the players… I know a lot of you are thinking, “Well, that’s pretty great.”
A lot of the players, almost all of them took a knee alongside this coach of their own volition, and then this made its way to the courts ’cause the school fired him. He sued and said, “Hold on a second. This is a violation of both my free exercise, free exercise of religion and free speech rights under the First Amendment. And sure enough, today, by a 6-3 decision, they found for Coach Kennedy, that the school did in fact violate his rights of free speech and the free exercise of religion. Clay, I know you’re following this one too.
For me, if it wasn’t coming after Roe, this would be a situation, this would be a circumstance that might not get quite as much outrage from the liberal intelligentsia. It’s a pretty narrow decision. It’s not saying prayer in classrooms, not saying that, you know, that he can go and evangelize during the lunch hour. It’s saying if someone does a silent prayer for 30 seconds after the game when they could be making a cell phone to, you know, make reservation at a restaurant, make a cell phone call, that’s fine. They’re allowed to do that. The school is going too far here to shut that down. But post-Roe, I think we’re gonna hear a lot of, “Oh, my gosh. It’s The Handmaid’s Tale!”
CLAY: Yeah, Buck, look I think if Donald Trump wanted to decide not to run in the wake of all of the decisions that are coming down from this Supreme Court term, he could argue that he made America great again and it was time for a new generation of leaders to pick up from here because also he could argue this is what happens when Joe Biden wins. The Supreme Court decisions are the legacy of the Trump administration, and that legacy is likely to build and continue, barring unhealthy outcomes for some of these judges for a generation to come.
In this case, to me, is really remarkable in the context of, yes, there were six justices who said a coach after a game can kneel in prayer if he’s at a public school, but it took seven years for this coach, this former Coach Kennedy, and three judges still said he didn’t have the right to do it. That’s maybe what stands out to me the most about this. And I think for many of our listeners is so staggering, because there are so many sporting events, especially all over the red states where I go and watch college football games every weekend, oftentimes for Fox Sports to report on them, where they begin the game with a benediction of sorts before a college football game featuring a state institution.
So, the fact that the… Remember, this was out on the West Coast in the state of Washington. So, the Ninth Circuit out there completely rejected his ability to be able to do this. And again, it took him seven years, Buck, to be able to triumph. He lost his job. I hope he’ll be able to go back and get that job anew and there will be some sort of vindication outside of the Supreme Court ruling for a guy who probably liked coaching football. You know. You coached high school sports, as you were saying, and I certainly have coached Little League and beyond in an effort to impart hopefully a few life lessons than and make the teams a little bit better.
But the fact that there were still three justices who don’t believe that a public school coach of a sporting team, regardless, ’cause this would apply to multiple teams, right, can kneel in prayer after the game without being fired is, to me, evidence of how far outside the mainstream the left wing of this court has become. Because I think there are a lot of independents, I think there are a lot of Democrats out there who are saying, my goodness, you’re telling me a guy can’t profess his own faith on the field after the game, as he sees fit?
It’s really kind of crazy that we could have ever reached a point where it took him seven years and three justices would have not upheld his right to do this. And this is a vindication and victory for Trump and the justices that he put on the court because if Hillary had won in 2016 this guy wouldn’t have had the right. I mean, unfortunately, that’s the reality. If Hillary had gotten these three Supreme Court justice appointments this random high school football coach, Buck, wouldn’t have been able to take a knee and pray after a football game.
And you could say that doesn’t matter, but I think it does in the context of what liberty and freedom exists in this country. So, this is a big win, and I’m with you, Buck. I think it’s gotten a lot of attention because it comes on the heels of the overturning of Roe v. Wade that happened on Friday. But I think what it’s emblematic about is a reach back against the overreach that the left wing on this court has made the law of the land in many different respects.
BUCK: It also shows that the atheist left has a deep and abiding hostility to religion. I mean, you see the ACLU, for example, tries to root out, stamp out religion everywhere and anywhere. That seems to be its mission now. That and just being woke, of course, not actually standing up for civil rights and civil liberties in any meaningful sense if at all. And I think, though, Clay this decision — and I mentioned there are a couple of others that are likely to come down probably tomorrow, later this week for sure, that will be a slap down of the EPA. There will be Remain in Mexico, which is clearly constitutional, by the way.
The way that… What you’re seeing here is that the left, the libs are losing one of their favorite toys. They think of the Supreme Court as their thing. When it matters, it gives them what they want. You look back in the last 20 years or so, you can think off the top of your head of the only decisions that have really gone against them that they’re very upset about, it would be obviously George Bush in 2000, it would be Citizens United, which was an absurd case. The Democrats are actually claiming that it’s not a violation.
This was the Obama solicitor general claiming it wasn’t unconstitutional to ban the publication of books 60 or 90 days before an election, as if government should have that right. I mean, that’s completely a violation of First Amendment. And then, of course, Heller, right? So, there were a few decisions where the left gets really upset. Those are the only ones I can think of they get upset. Everything else they’ve gotten their way. And then you stretch back for decades to the really seminal cases, Roe at the very top of the list.
Roe and then all the way to Obergefell, they’ve gotten their way on so many of these, and it’s on issues where they needed a super legislature of nine people in black robes because they can’t actually… When they wouldn’t actually win at the state level with the states being able to do what they’re supposed to under the Tenth Amendment. I think this is dawning on the Democrats now. They have political fights that they have to wage that they thought were over, and this is going to continue well beyond just the rage that we’re seeing on the streets over the weekend, Clay. We’re entering a new legal era here, one actually rooted in the Constitution, and the left is pretty upset about it.
CLAY: There’s no doubt, and this is going to be, and this is why — and, unfortunately, we have to mention this. When there are some of these… Now, this was 6-3 decision, but when there are a bunch of these 5-4 decisions, I worry when you talk about the rage of the left, the willingness to kill Brett Kavanaugh, the attempted assassination of Brett Kavanaugh already, when these final Supreme Court opinions come out, we’re in a really dangerous spot. And I’ll talk about this a little bit more certainly in the months, unfortunately, ahead.
But between now and when theoretically the Democrats would lose control of the House and certainly of the Senate, I just reiterate this, if there were a vacancy on the Supreme Court and if it were in that five-person majority, then Joe Biden would have the opportunity, because he has a 50-vote Senate with the tie-break with Kamala Harris to ram through a new Supreme Court justice. And that might be the last time that the Democrats are going to have the White House and control of the Senate for 10 or 15 years.
We don’t know certainly what will happen in the years ahead, but that could be a, I think, cataclysmic and calamitous event coming off of potentially violence that led to the death of a Supreme Court justice like we saw the left-wing imbecile tried to do associated with Kavanaugh. So, we’ll talk about that; it’s a danger. But today I think everyone should be happy about that ruling, Coach Kennedy able to pray and so many other high school public school teachers out there who are coaching teams have that same ability as well.
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