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Private Citizen Versus Public Official: A Case Analysis of Coaches’ Freedom of Religion

Leeann M. Lower-Hoppe, Ross M. Arasim


When does the establishment clause end and the free exercise clause begin for public school coaches? As public officials, sport coaches are subject to constitutional restrictions prohibiting the endorsement of religion, which may in turn infringe upon their rights as private citizens. In the case of Joseph A. Kennedy v. Bremerton School District (2017), Coach Kennedy was restricted from praying on the 50-yard line immediately after football games in view of students and parents and subsequently filed a lawsuit claiming violation of his freedom of religion. The purpose of this law review is to analyze the aforementioned case and provide implications for schools and coaches to protect individual civil liberties and mitigate legal liability.

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