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After Supreme Court ruling, former Bremerton football coach must be reinstated

Joseph Kennedy lost his job as an assistant coach at Bremerton in 2015 over his on-field prayers with players.

BREMERTON, Wash. — A former Bremerton High School assistant football coach must be reinstated by March after winning his case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court over the summer, according to a new court filing.

Joseph Kennedy lost his job in 2015 over his refusal to stop holding prayers with players on the field. 

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in his favor that his prayers were protected under the First Amendment.

“The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike,” wrote Justice Neil Gorsuch for the majority.

Kennedy said in an interview with KING 5 after the ruling that he would be on the "first flight back" to return to his position once he had the chance.

The joint stipulation filed Tuesday indicates that the parties in the case have agreed that Kennedy must be reinstated to his previous position on or before March 15, 2023. The Bremerton School District can require that Kennedy complete all necessary hiring forms and certifications before allowing him to supervise players.

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Kennedy is entitled to reasonable attorneys' fees and costs and must submit a fee application within 60 days of the Court's entry of judgment. The Bremerton School District cannot retaliate against or take any future adverse employment action against Kennedy for conduct "that complies with the terms of the Court's order."

The filing includes language that Kennedy is entitled to declaratory relief consistent with the Supreme Court's opinion in this case, and that Bremerton School District "shall not interfere with or prohibit Kennedy from offering a prayer consistent with the Supreme Court's opinion."

However, the joint stipulation says that the parties disagree on the wording of the two line items listed above, and the parties will file a joint submission on Nov. 8 with each side's proposed wording on the disputed issues.

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