Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich Urges SCOTUS to Uphold First Amendment Rights of Public Employees

PHOENIX – Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to review a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that failed to uphold the constitutional rights of 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.

“Americans do not abandon their religious liberties at the door of their workplace,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “Especially at this moment in our country’s history, it is imperative that heavy-handed government be restrained from trampling on our rights to personal expression as recognized and protected by the First Amendment.”

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.

This amicus brief was led by Arizona, Alaska, and Texas and has now been joined by Attorneys General from 21 additional states.

Copy of Amicus – Kennedy v. Bremerton School District.