Commonwealth of Virginia
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Jason S. Miyares
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Richmond, Virginia 23219
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Attorney General Miyares Urges SCOTUS to Uphold First Amendment Rights of Public Employees
~ AG Miyares Fights to Protect Individual's First Amendment Rights ~
RICHMOND, VA -- Attorney General Jason Miyares joined a coalition of 27 states urging the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to reverse a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Joseph A Kennedy v. Bremerton School District. The ruling that failed to uphold the constitutional rights of a public high school coach who was punished for praying alone on a football field in view of students.
"The freedoms of religion and speech are the first freedoms in our Bill of Rights for a reason—they are fundamental to why our nation is unique. The First Amendment protected Coach Kennedy's right to engage in private prayer in a public place, and the school district violated his rights by punishing him for doing so. The lower court's decision allowing the school to punish Coach Kennedy promoted the radical and dangerous view that religion and public service cannot coexist,” said Attorney General Miyares. "The Supreme Court should reject this view and protect Coach Kennedy's right to practice his faith.”
The amicus brief argues that contrary to the Ninth Circuit's opinion, Supreme Court precedents do not hold that a public employee's private speech (like Coach Kennedy's private prayer) is exempt from First Amendment protection. The Ninth Circuit also conflicts with settled constitutional principles and creates problems for public employers and public employees by allowing the School District to justify its discriminatory actions under the Establishment Clause. The brief concludes that the Ninth Circuit's curtailment of First Amendment liberties is detrimental to public service, because private religious expression and public service can and must coexist.
This amicus brief was led by Arizona, Alaska, Florida, and Texas and was joined by 22 other states.
A copy of the brief can be read HERE.