Ruling rejecting Newdow challenge to inaugural prayer [US DC]

Newdow v. Bush, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge John Bates, January 14, 2005 [rejecting atheist Michael Newdow's challenge to the inclusion of prayers by invited clergy -- in the form of an invocation and benediction -- at the upcoming Presidential Inauguration scheduled for January 20, 2005]. Excerpt:

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. 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 program 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 Newdow's ability to proceed with this action remains in doubt and there is no clear evidence of impermissible sectarian proselytizing.
Read the full text of the opinion here [PDF]. Reported in JURIST's Paper Chase here.

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