Wash. coach Joe Kennedy, who prayed after games, has appeal rejected

Photo: Michaela Roman/Kitsap Sun

Good news and bad news for Joe Kennedy, the former football coach at Washington’s Bremerton High. The bad news: His request for an appeal that would reinstate him was rejected. That means he’ll have to take his grievance straight to the man (or woman) upstairs.

The good news? He apparently has plenty of experience doing just that.

As reported by the Seattle Times, Kennedy was fired when he refused to stop praying with his players after football games. His prayer at a public school facility ran afoul of the separation of church and state as protected by the Constitution.

Bremerton High School assistant football coach Joe Kennedy (Photo: KING)

Since a three-member panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the school district in upholding a lower court’s decision that found the district was justified in firing Kennedy the coach and his legal team have attempted to gain a rehearing of the case by the full court. On Thursday that request was officially rejected, leaving his attorneys with just an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court as an option to revisit the case against Kennedy.

That option has not been turned down by First Liberty, the Texas-based conservative legal defense group which has been representing Kennedy. Still, the possibility of the Supreme Court hearing the Bremerton case is considered remote, all but ensuring that Kennedy will remain Bremerton’s former football coach.

“It is disappointing that the Ninth Circuit would refuse to hear Coach Kennedy’s case en banc, especially in light of the extreme, far-reaching opinion issued by the three-judge panel,” Mike Berry, deputy general counsel for First Liberty, told the Times.

The Bremerton School District had a different, understandable interpretation: It just wants this whole affair over with.

“The District will now await Mr. Kennedy’s decision whether to petition to the United States Supreme Court, or to proceed with the remainder of his case in the district court. The District looks forward to the eventual conclusion of this matter.”

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