Barry, you pose an interesting question.  I believe that end of life decisions should be made primarily between an individual and that individual’s family and trusted advisors, including spiritual counselors.  An individual should certainly be able to consult his physician, if the individual so chooses.  I would imagine that most health care plans would cover an annual physical exam during which a person could consult with his physician. 


I do think it is inappropriate for the government to give physicians an incentive to initiate this conversation and mandate what should be covered in the counseling.  That could all too easily lead to a scenario where the federal government makes care decisions based on life expectancy.


And, now from the category… if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.  That’s exactly what Michael Newdow, an atheist, and his fellow plaintiffs are doing – this time in a federal appeals court – this time appealing a lower court decision that dismissed their lawsuit challenging prayers offered at the presidential inauguration – including the phrase used in the oath, “So help me God.”

Barry, this is the latest chapter in a relentless crusade to purge all religious references and observances from American public life.  He failed in his latest attempt in January when a federal district court dismissed the lawsuit and refused to block the inaugural prayer saying the plaintiffs lacked standing because they failed to show harm that would result from the prayers taking place. 


We filed an amicus brief at the time and argued that Newdow’s suit “must not be permitted to move forward” noting that references to God at inaugurations date back to the very origins of this country.  Our brief recognized that references to God at inaugurations date back to the very origins of this country.


According to the brief:  “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.”


The latest appeal from Newdow is taking place in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and in an amicus brief just filed with the appeals court we urge that the lower court decision be upheld and argue the challenge lacks legal standing.


We see no reason why the federal appeals court will not reach the same and proper conclusion as did the federal district court. 


Barry, I’m all for persistence and standing up for your position in court, but this continuing legal challenge is without merit.  By our count, this is the 9th lawsuit filed by Newdow over the years – his third suit challenging presidential inaugural prayer.


While it is certainly within his right to continue this flawed legal strategy, to me it’s clear that he’s wasted untold judicial resources – resources that are clearly needed in cases involving real threats to American liberties.


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