A federal court has ruled that a Washington state high school football coach violated the U.S. Constitution by taking a knee at the 50-yard line and praying after games.
Joe Kennedy lost his job as an assistant football coach at Bremerton High School in 2015 after the school district suspended him for his post-game prayers.
Kennedy sued and accused the school of violating his free speech. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the district's suspension was justified.
“When Kennedy kneeled and prayed on the 50-yard line immediately after games while in view of students and parents, he spoke as a public employee, not as a private citizen, and his speech therefore was constitutionally unprotected,” the 9th Circuit wrote.
In an exclusive interview on "The Story" tonight, Kennedy said he was not surprised by the court's decision, because he's heard "rumors" about how that particular court tends to rule.
"I really tried to meet with the school halfway with everything," Kennedy said. "They didn't want me to pray with the kids, and I said, 'That's fine. Your rules. But I'm not going to give up my beliefs just because it made somebody feel uncomfortable.' So I agreed that I would just do it by myself on the 50 alone, the way it first started out."
Kennedy's attorney, Hiram Sasser, said it's "totally outrageous" that the court took issue with a coach praying on the field silently by himself for a mere 15 seconds.
"The argument that the 9th Circuit has adopted is basically that if you do anything that's religious at all that someone else can see, then somehow you're working on behalf of the state and you're conveying a religious message."
He said they have lots of options, including taking the case to the Supreme Court or before the 9th Circuit en banc, meaning it would be heard before all the judges as opposed to a panel of three.
Watch more above.