AG Paxton Leads 21 States Defending Religious Liberty Of Fired Football Coach

Chris Fox
July 30, 2020 - 5:47 am
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

© Courtney Sacco/Caller-Times,

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson led 21 states in an amicus brief filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit defending the religious liberty of public employees.

In 2015, Bremerton High School assistant Coach Joe Kennedy was fired for holding post-game prayers on the field after the school district asked him to stop.

Coach Kennedy sued the Washington State school district in Federal court. The school district won two different decisions. The court concluded the prayer sessions violated the prohibition on government favoring a religion.

“By preventing Coach Kennedy from exercising his religious freedom, the district has demonstrated constitutionally impermissible hostility toward religion. In fact, the district’s shifting demands show a determination to infringe on his First Amendment right to religious exercise,” said Attorney General Paxton. “An unfounded fear that the school district might be seen as endorsing religion is no justification for prohibiting a man from honoring his deeply-held beliefs. Religious expression and public service can and must coexist.” 

Texas’s amicus brief argues in defense of the religious liberty guaranteed to Coach Kennedy and all public employees by the First Amendment. The brief says by forcing employees to forgo their constitutionally protected right to religious liberty, public institutions ensure that their employees must either hide their beliefs entirely or hold no religious beliefs at all.

Back in January 2019 the US Supreme Court refused to take up the case.