BREMERTON, Wash. — A former high school football coach in Washington state who lost his job after praying on the 50-year line following games — and whose case went all the way to the Supreme Court — could soon be reinstated, court documents obtained by CBS News show.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of Joe Kennedy, an assistant coach at Bremerton High School. On Tuesday, attorneys for the Bremerton School District and Kennedy both submitted a joint stipulation in U.S. district court stating that he be reinstated to his former position on the football team on or before March 15, 2023.
The documents also state the 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." Additionally, Kennedy will be entitled to "reasonable" attorneys' fees and costs, the stipulation states.
According to the court records, both parties still disagree on some of the wording in the document, including a clause which states the school district cannot "interfere with or prohibit Kennedy from offering a prayer consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion."
Both parties will file a joint submission on Nov. 8, with each side's proposed wording on the remaining disputed issues.
Jeremy Dys, an attorney representing Kennedy, told CBS News that his client is "excited" to get back to the job.
"For him to be able to get back on that field with his players and help them to be good men at the same time is something that is very near and dear to his heart," Dys said.
An attorney representing the Bremerton School District offered no additional comment.
Kennedy began praying on the field after football games in 2008, and continued the practice until 2015, when he and the Bremerton School District debated over whether the practice was protected under religious expression. He was eventually placed on administrative leave for violating district directives to stop praying with the students.
Kennedy chose to not reapply for his coaching position, and sued the school in 2016 for violating his First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of his faith. After the 9th U.S. District Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the school district, Kennedy and his legal team petitioned the Supreme Court. His case was turned down once, but the justices agreed to hear the case earlier this year.
The court's majority said that the free exercise and free speech clauses of the First Amendment protected Kennedy's prayer time, as he was an individual engaging in religious expression. Following the ruling, Kennedy told CBS News that the decision was a "great ruling for America."
"People of faith or no faith, everybody has the same rights and that is what the Constitution is all about," he said in June. "It's rights for all Americans."