by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) which represented 31 members of Congress in an amicus brief defending the National Day of Prayer, said yesterday’s decision by a federal district court in Wisconsin declaring the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional is flawed and expressed confidence that this decision will be overturned.
“It is unfortunate that this court failed to understand that a day set aside for prayer for the country represents a time-honored tradition that embraces the First Amendment, not violates it,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ, in a press release. “This decision runs counter to well established legal precedent and we are confident that this flawed decision ultimately will be overturned.”
In the decision U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb decided in favor of lared The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a Wisconsin-based organization, which challenged the constitutionality of a 1988 federal law giving the President the authority to designate the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer.
In its brief, the ACLJ argued that the country has recognized a national day of prayer since the late 1700’s when the Continental Congress recommended that the states set apart a day for prayer and thanksgiving. The brief states that “the historical evidence establishing a National Day of Prayer as deeply embedded in the tradition and history of this country is indisputable.”
Sekulow plans to file a brief representing members of Congress who intend to challenge the decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
“If the appeals court fails to reverse this decision, we are confident the Supreme Court will hear the case and ultimately determine that such proclamations and observances like the National Day of Prayer not only reflect our nation’s rich history, but are indeed consistent with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”
He added: “This is the first step in what could be a lengthy legal process that ultimately puts this issue before the Supreme Court. This issue could very well be decided by the next appointee to the high court. An issue like this underscores the importance of why it’s so critical 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.”
The following U.S. Representatives joined the ACLJ in the case: J. Randy Forbes, Robert B. Aderholt, Michele Bachmann, Roscoe G. Bartlett, John A. Boehner, John Boozman, Eric Cantor, K. Michael Conaway, Mary Fallin, Virginia Foxx, Trent Franks, Scott Garrett, Louie Gohmert, Wally Herger, Peter Hoekstra, Walter B. Jones, Jim Jordan, Doug Lamborn, Thaddeus G. McCotter, Patrick T. McHenry, Mike McIntyre, Jeff Miller, Sue Wilkins Myrick, Randy Neugebauer, Pete Olson, Mike Pence, Joseph R. Pitts, Heath Shuler, Adrian Smith, Lamar Smith, and Joe Wilson.
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