This decision hardly represents a ‘victory’ for religious liberty, as you suggest. It’s more like a small setback in the ongoing battle to keep groups like Freedom From Religion Foundation from purging all religious references and observances from American public life.
This decision is by a single federal district court in Wisconsin. It does not follow well established precedent on First Amendment jurisprudence. And, at the end of the day, it is our belief that this twisted interpretation of the Establishment Clause will be overturned – if not by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit – than by the Supreme Court.
I’ve read the decision and disagree completely with Judge Crabb’s analysis. I believe her conclusions are flawed. The only good news out of this is that she put her injunction on hold – clearing the way for the National Day of Prayer to continue – while appeals move forward. And, after the decision, the White House made it clear that the President intends to recognize a National Day of Prayer again in May.
This National Day of Prayer is voluntary and no one is compelled to pray or not to pray.
In an amicus brief we filed with the court representing 31 members of Congress in this case we cite a long history of recognizing a national day of prayer dating back to the late 1700’s with the Continental Congress recommending that the states set apart a day for prayer and thanksgiving. Such requests were made by our nation’s Founding Fathers – including Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. Even, the drafter of the First Amendment, James Madison, issued four proclamations in the early 1800’s calling the nation to a day of prayer. The fact is that since the country’s inception, nearly every president has issued proclamations calling the nation to pray for a variety of purposes.
Barry, as you know, this case could very well end up at the Supreme Court. And, as we prepare our amicus brief – once again representing members of Congress this time before a federal appeals court – it’s important to note that this case could very well end up in front of Justice Stevens’ replacement.
That’s why it’s so important for the nominee to answer direct questions about their judicial philosophy, how they view the role of judges, and their view of the rule of law.
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