2021 News Releases

AG Derek Schmidt urges U.S. Supreme Court to protect religion, speech rights of public employees

Release Date: Oct 19, 2021

TOPEKA – (October 19, 2021) – A high school coach’s personal act of prayer on a football field is protected by the First Amendment, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today told the U.S. Supreme Court.

Schmidt joined 23 other state attorneys general in filing a brief asking the Supreme Court to review and reverse a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that allowed the school district to punish the coach for praying alone on a football field in view of his students. 

“Courts have repeatedly confirmed that the mere presence of private, protected religious speech on a school campus does not constitute an endorsement such that it brings the school within the ambit of an Establishment Clause violation,” the attorneys general argued in the brief. Further, they said the 9th Circuit’s decision “impermissibly curtails public employees’ right to express themselves as citizens.”

The attorneys general are asking the Supreme Court to review the case and reverse the 9th Circuit’s ruling to ensure the rights of public employees to maintain their freedom of religious expression and prevent the detrimental consequences to the public-sector workforce if these rights are not protected.

The case is Joseph A. Kennedy v. Bremerton School District. A copy of the brief is available at https://bit.ly/3AWyOri.

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News releases issued prior to 2011 are available through an archive hosted by the Kansas State Library.