The Council of State Governments: SLLC Files Supreme Court Brief in Praying High School Football Coach Case

April 04, 2022

Michael Dreeben, Ephraim McDowell, and Jenya Godina of O’Melveny & Myers LLP wrote an amicus brief for the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) arguing that the First Amendment does not protect Joseph Kennedy’s speech in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District. Joseph Kennedy, a former assistant football coach, was put on administrative leave for making a “spectacle of delivering midfield prayers at the immediate conclusion of games and insisted that students must be allowed to join.” The district’s superintendent directed Kennedy not to pray with students, but he continued to do so, arguing that his speech was private and protected by the First Amendment. “Governments have a responsibility to refrain from giving official approval to their employees’ religious expression, in order to avoid the appearance of favoring some religions over others (or religion over non-religion) and to avoid placing coercive pressure on others to participate,” the brief argued. The brief has received support from multiple organizations.

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