Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced this week that she is “fighting to protect the religious freedom of public-school employees.”
Leading 26 other states, Moody urged the Supreme Court of the United States to reverse the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on Joseph A. Kennedy v. Bremerton School District. In this case, the Ninth Circuit failed to uphold the constitutional rights of a high school coach punished for praying alone on a football field in view of students.
“High school coaches, like other government employees, do not check their constitutional rights at the door when they agree to pursue a career of public service. We should be encouraging people of faith to pursue noble careers educating and coaching our youth,” Moody said.
The amicus brief argues that:
Contrary to the Ninth Circuit’s opinion, Supreme Court precedents do not hold that a public employee’s private speech, like Coach Kennedy’s private prayer, is exempt from First Amendment protection;
Allowing the School District to justify its discriminatory actions under the Establishment Clause not only conflicts with settled constitutional principles, but it also creates problems for both public employers and employees; and
The Ninth Circuit’s curtailment of First Amendment liberties is detrimental to public service. Private religious expression and public service can and must coexist.
Moody is joined by the attorneys general of the following states in filing the brief: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.
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