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NFL players file brief with US Supreme Court in support of high school coach who prayed after game

Wednesday, Mar 2, 2022

The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch regarding a friend-of-the-court brief that ADF attorneys filed jointly at the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday with lead counsel representing former and current National Football League players who support a high school football coach suspended for engaging in 30 seconds of personal prayer at the end of a game:

“American citizens do not give up the right to personal prayer when they accept employment with a public employer. As our brief explains, the First Amendment protects prayer because it is private speech, not government speech. Ignoring the Supreme Court’s command that ‘schools do not endorse everything they fail to censor,’ the 9th Circuit wrongly reasoned that Coach Kennedy’s personal, on-field prayers were not his own, but the government’s—and worse, that even if the prayers were his own, the risk that someone might think they were the government’s prayers meant he had to be censored. But the coach’s prayers were not a part of his official job responsibilities, and if he had instead been saying a silent prayer in the school cafeteria before lunch, no one would have thought of attributing it to the school district. The fact that he prayed after a game doesn’t change the fact that his speech is just as protected by the First Amendment, and we hope the Supreme Court will reverse the 9th Circuit and affirm just that.”

The current and former NFL players represented in the brief filed in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District are Kirk Cousins, Joe DeLamielleure, Nick Foles, Phil Olsen, Christian Ponder, Drew Stanton, Harry Swayne, and Jack Youngblood.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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