The Freedom Foundation has made it its mission to help public sector employees exercise their First Amendment rights not to be associated with or fund the political speech of government employee union bosses.
Predictably, those union bosses, the government employers and many judges before whom the Freedom Foundation brings its legal action resist such attempts by public employees to free themselves from speech with which they disagree.
Now, the Freedom Foundation is joining with other organizations to stand up for public employees’ rights to engage in speech they hold dear: personal prayer.
The Freedom Foundation regularly hears from school employees who have been bullied into teaching Critical Race Theory and other messages to students against their will, but now a case being appealed to the Supreme Court seeks a reversal of the 9th Circuit that held a school employee could be fired for engaging in personal prayer of thanksgiving.
Joseph Kennedy was a football coach in the Bremerton School District in Washington state before the district suspended and then placed him on administrative leave for praying on the football field at the conclusion of the high school games.
The 9th Circuit upheld the school district’s decision on the basis that allowing Coach Kennedy to pray in view of students on school property was akin to governmental establishment of religion.
Never mind the fact that school districts across the country are allowing, establishing and even forcing the teaching of values many parents prefer their children were not exposed to.
According to the amicus brief, scenarios that are commonly understood as protected by the First Amendment would be prohibited under the Ninth Circuit’s reasoning. These scenarios include but are not limited to: a teacher bowing her head in silent prayer of thanks while students are nearby before lunch in the school cafeteria, a civilian employee at the Pentagon keeping the Qur’an visibly on her desk so that she can read it during her personal time, and a teacher of Jewish faith wearing a yarmulke through the duration of each workday.
Additionally, the Ninth Circuit’s ruling would chill public employees from engaging in constitutionally protected acts of personal religious practice because individuals cannot reasonably be expected to interpret confusing and overbroad court opinions in order to determine if their personal religious practice would qualify as constitutionally protected.
As a result, the Freedom Foundation joined an amicus brief led by Advancing American Freedom (AAF), Young America’s Foundation (YAF), and 41 co-signors to ask the Supreme Court to “protect the ability of teachers and other government employees to express their protected First Amendment right to engage in private religious expression without fear of government retribution or Establishment Clause violation.”