OCT 20, 2021

Attorney General Alan Wilson joins 24-state coalition urging SCOTUS to uphold First Amendment rights of public employees

(COLUMBIA, S.C.) – South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson joined a 24-state coalition urging the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to uphold the constitutional rights of public employees. The attorneys general are asking the Supreme Court to review a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against a high school coach who was punished for praying alone on a football field in view of students. The case is Joseph A. Kennedy v. Bremerton School District.

“The Constitution guarantees our right to practice our religion and that doesn’t stop at the schoolhouse door, or football field,” Attorney General Wilson said. “While schools and teachers cannot promote their religion, it makes no sense to say that a coach praying alone is violating the Constitution.”

The amicus brief argues that: 

  • By concluding Coach Kennedy acted as a public employee rather than a private citizen when kneeling and praying on the football field, the Ninth Circuit impermissibly expanded his job description in a way that leaves teachers and other public employees questioning what is public as opposed to private speech.
  • The Ninth Circuit’s ruling goes against well-established precedent and threatens First Amendment rights.
  • Allowing the Bremerton School District to justify its discriminatory actions under the Establishment Clause creates problems for public employers and employees.
  • The Ninth Circuit’s curtailment of First Amendment liberties is detrimental to public education.

South Carolina joins the brief, which was led by Alaska, Arizona, and Texas, and has been joined by attorneys general from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah and West Virginia.


Copy of Amicus – Kennedy v. Bremerton School District here.

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