Barry, once again, another legal challenge that you probably support – a federal lawsuit filed by Michael Newdow attempting to stop the mention of God at the inauguration of President-elect Obama and the inclusion of prayers at the inaugural ceremony itself.
Newdow has a troubling history of trying to purge all religious references and observances from American public life. And, like his other attempts, this lawsuit is not only legally flawed by misplaced.
In our amicus brief filed with the federal court in Washington, DC – we argue that the Newdow suit should be dismissed.
“This personal crusade serves no purpose other than to waste judicial resources at a time in our Nation’s history when those resources are needed in cases involving real threats to American liberties,” the brief asserts.
There’s a long standing tradition in this country that when the oath of office is administered to the President-elect by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, it concludes with the phrase “So help me God.” The inclusion of prayers at the inaugural ceremony is also part of that history, too.
The fact is that references to God at inaugurations date back to the very origins of this country. And Steve Waldman has done a nice job detailing some of that history with this post.
Our brief outlines specifics too: “In his first inaugural address, President Washington proclaimed that ‘no people can be bound to knowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States,’ because ‘every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.’ Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States, S. Doc. No. 10, 101st Cong., 1st Sess. 2 (1989). Thus, the Inauguration of the man who was ‘first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen,’ was blessed with an invocation of Divine Aid by the very Chief Executive. Every subsequent Inaugural has likewise afforded the Chief Executive the opportunity to expressly invoke Divine Aid, or to acknowledge the working of the Divine Hands in the enterprise that is this great Nation.”
There’s no constitutional crisis with President-elect Obama concluding the oath of office by proclaiming “So help me God.” And, there’s no constitutional crisis with the inclusion of prayers offered during the inaugural ceremony.
It’s interesting to note that Newdow has twice lost claims challenging inaugural prayer in the past. That’s what should happen this time around, too. The court should reject this legal challenge without delay.