ACLJ Encouraged that Federal Appeals Court Rejects Newdow Challenge to Inaugural Prayer | American Center for Law and Justice
  Search  |  Login  |  Register

ACLJ Profile Completion

Verified

1306136299000

January 17, 2005

(Washington, DC) The American Center for Law and Justice, focusing on constitutional law, said today it is pleased that a federal appeals court has rejected a request by Michael Newdow to prohibit prayer at this Thursday's Presidential inauguration.  A federal district court on Friday rejected Newdow's request for an injunction to stop the clergy prayers and late Sunday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected his appeal.  Newdow is now expected to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and stop the prayers.

"We're delighted to see the courts continue to uphold a time-honored tradition and we have every reason to believe that the prayers will take place as scheduled on Thursday," said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ, which has challenged Newdow's lawsuits in the past.  "This legal challenge has no merit and the courts have repeatedly held that such expressions do not violate the constitution.  We're pleased that now a second court -- a federal appeals court -- has rejected this faulty challenge.  If Newdow persists and asks the Supreme Court to get involved, we will support the Department of Justice's position and file a brief with the high court in support of the constitutionality of the prayers."

On Friday, a federal district court rejected Michael Newdows challenge and late Sunday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected the appeal.  Newdow has said he will take the case to the Supreme Court. 

In a decision issued on Friday, U.S. District Court Judge John Bates rejected Newdows legal challenge saying there is a strong argument, that at this late date, the public interest would best be served by allowing the 2005 Inauguration ceremony to proceed on January 20 as planned.  

The court continued:  That would be consistent with the inclusion of clergy prayer in all Presidential inaugurations since 1937, and with the inclusion of religious prayer or reference in every inauguration commencing with the first inauguration of President Washington in 1789.  To do otherwise, moreover, would at this eleventh hour cause considerable disruption in a significant, carefully-planned, national event, requiring programming and other adjustments.  The material change requested by Newdow in an accepted and well-established historical pattern of short prayers or religious references during Presidential inaugurations, based on this last-minute challenge, is not likely to serve the public interest, particularly where Newdows ability to proceed with this action remains in doubt and there is no clear evidence of impermissible sectarian proselytizing.

In briefs filed in connection with this case, the ACLJ contends the constitutionality of the inaugural prayer is settled law with the Supreme Court in 1983 concluding in its decision in Marsh v. Chambers that the opening of sessions of legislative and other deliberative public bodies with prayer is deeply embedded in the history and tradition of this country.  The high court also noted that the First Congress did not consider opening prayers as a proselytizing activity or as symbolically placing the governments official seal of approval on one religious view.

Last year, the ACLJ filed a brief at the Supreme Court opposing Newdows challenge to the Pledge of Allegiance, which the high court rejected.  Newdow has filed a new lawsuit once again challenging the Pledge and the ACLJ will again file briefs opposing that challenge.  

The ACLJ is based in Washington, D.C.

Latest in
ACLJ

ACLJ, Members of Congress File in Court On Biden’s Tax Cut Ban (Recap)

By Jordan Sekulow1618002113455

We just took major action in court to fight back against President Biden and the radical Left’s unconstitutional overreach. Today on Sekulow , we discussed the breaking announcement that the ACLJ is filing a critical amicus brief in court to challenge President Biden’s power grab to control state...

read more

This Easter, Do Not Be Afraid, But Remember Our Christian Brothers and Sisters Around the World Facing Violence and Persecution

By Jay Sekulow1617357660000

“Do not be afraid.” Those were the words of the angel who appeared to Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus, according to Matthew 28 : The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.

read more

ACLJ Presses State Dept. on John Kerry’s Secret Meetings (Recap)

By Jordan Sekulow1616619728081

The ACLJ has filed a FOIA request with the U.S. State Department regarding John Kerry’s secret meetings with Iran. Today on Sekulow , we discussed John Kerry’s clandestine meetings with Iran and how the ACLJ is pressing the State Department to find out what they know about these meetings. You may...

read more

The ACLJ Needed Now More Than Ever (Sekulow Recap)

By Jordan Sekulow1616102069170

Looking ahead, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) is needed now more than ever. Today on Sekulow, we discuss how the ACLJ is needed, now more than ever. With a Biden Administration that is proving hostile to the foundational principles of our country – and the Constitution itself – the...

read more