by Jack Minor
A liberal judge who ruled the National Day of Prayer was unconstitutional was overturned today by a federal appeals court saying that plaintiffs did not have a right to be protected from “conduct with which they disagree.”
In April of last year, a Wisconsin District Court Judge, Barbara Crabb, issued a ruling in a case filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation that the National Day of Prayer was unconstitutional.
The National Day of Prayer was signed into law by President Harry Truman and amended in 1988. The law reads, “The President shall issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation said they felt the law was unconstitutional because by encouraging citizens to pray it was a violation of the first amendment. The judge agreed with the organization stating in her ruling that government involvement in prayer may be consistent with establishment clause, however it was not in this case.
Crabb stated the law “goes beyond mere ‘acknowledgment’ of religion, because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context. In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience.”
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, stating that “hurt feelings differ from legal injury.”
Writing for the majority, Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook, said, “Plaintiffs contend that they are injured because they feel excluded, or made unwelcome when the President asks them to engage in a religious observance that is contrary to their own principles. It is difficult to see how any reader of the 2010 proclamation would feel excluded or unwelcome. Here again is the proclamation’s only sentence that explicitly requests citizens to pray: ‘I call upon the citizens of our nation to pray, or otherwise give thanks, in accordance with their own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and I invite all people of faith to join me in asking for God’s continued guidance, grace, and protection as we meet the challenges before us.’”
Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, praised the ruling, “We’re extremely pleased that the appeals court rejected a flawed decision and determined that while some may disagree with a presidential proclamation, they do not have the right to silence the speech they don’t agree with. The appeals court correctly concluded that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the National Day of Prayer.”
Tags: Barbara Crabb, case, challenge, conduct, Court, God, government, guidance, Jay, Jay Sekulow, Jay Sekulowby Jack Minor, judge, law, nation, National, President Harry Truman, right, speech, Wisconsin District Court Judge, year