High school football coach Joe Kennedy, who was fired for praying with players on the 50-yard line after games and then reinstated after he won his court case, has tendered his resignation from Bremerton High School in Washington.
Kennedy was happy to return to his job, but he wrote in his resignation letter that “it is apparent that the reinstatement ordered by the Supreme Court will not be fully followed after a series of actions meant to diminish my role and single me out in what I can only believe is retaliation by the school district.”
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 last June that the school district violated his First Amendment rights. The court held that the “Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect an individual engaging in a personal religious observance from government reprisal; the Constitution neither mandates nor permits the government to suppress such religious expression.”
The school district settled with Kennedy for $2 million, but his return has not been worth it. Kennedy cited retaliation and a family member’s declining health as his reasons for leaving. And he’s tired of fighting. Kennedy said the school district didn’t enjoy having him there as much as he expected.
Kennedy’s lawyer, Hiram Sasser of First Liberty Institute, said on Fox News that his firm is investigating the retaliation. Kennedy is a Marine, Sasser said, “so he’s too proud, and he has too much honor to tell you everything the school district was doing. And we’re currently investigating all the retaliation that was going on.”
Sasser said the school wouldn’t give him a play card or an assignment for the game. They banned him from the team meal. They didn’t invite him to the coaches’ dinner with the opposing team’s coaches.
“They wouldn’t give him a locker,” Sasser said. “His key fob wouldn’t work.” They blocked Kennedy from certain meetings. And they told him not to be around the head coach and the players during the game.
Kennedy is going out on a high note. His case was a huge win for religious freedom before the nation’s highest court, he won a nice settlement to retire on — and his team won the game that marked his return. And he prayed on the 50-yard line after the victory.
Kennedy is writing a book about his story. Watch the clip below for more.