By Annysa Johnson of the Journal Sentinel
A federal appeals court on Thursday overturned last year's ruling that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional, saying the organization that brought the lawsuit did not have legal standing to do so.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that the lawsuit by Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation be dismissed.
In writing for the majority, Chief Judge Frank H. Easterbrook said it takes an invasion of one's own rights to create standing. He said the annual proclamation only encourages prayer and no one can be injured when a request can be denied.
In a 13-page decision, Easterbrook said that in marking the day each year, the president was making a request for prayer, not a command.
"No one is injured by a request that can be declined," he said.
The Washington-based American Center for Law and Justice, which had filed an amicus brief supporting the government's case, applauded the decision as a "victory for our nation's heritage and history."
"While some may disagree with a presidential proclamation, they do not have the right to silence the speech they don't agree with," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the center, a public interest law firm founded by evangelist Pat Robertson. . . .
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