Wednesday, December 16, 2009

DC Circuit Hears Oral Arguments In Challege To Inaugural Oath and Prayers

Yesterday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Newdow v. Roberts. The case challenges the addition of "So help me God" in the oath administered to President Obama, as well as prayers offered by clergy as part of the inaugural ceremony. The district court dismissed the case for lack of standing. (See prior posting.) In yesterday's argument, according to Blog of the Legal Times, Michael Newdow argued that, as an atheist, he suffered stigmatic injury from the religious elements of the ceremony. He also argued that the claims are not moot since future inaugurals are also likely to use the "so help me God" phrase in the oath of office. The government argued that plaintiffs' claims are too generalized to grant standing. They largely watched the ceremony on television. Justice Department attorney Lowell Sturgill Jr. also argued that it is speculative as to whether future presidents-elect will want to use the "so help me God" phrase. Counsel for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, also a defendant, argued that the PIC, a non-governmental group, did not assist the clergy in the ceremony.

At the hearing, the DC Circuit opened with its usual cry: "God save the United States and this honorable court." Plaintiffs' emergency motion asking the court to eliminate the cry before arguments in this case was denied last week. (See prior posting.) In response, apparently Michael Newdow (and Bob Ritter of the American Humanists) absented themselves from the courtroom during the cry. (Comment by Bob Ritter.)


Anonymous said...

This is starting to look petty. Has not the high court already heard this matter?

A ruling favoring prayer, however, will set a good precedent.

Barb said...

It IS petty. Most of these ACLU-type concerns have been petty. But their financial rewards are not. And if they prevail, the results to religious freedom won't be petty.

Anonymous said...

I disagree = petty lawsuit.
I agree = important lawsuit.


And, yes, if Newdow prevails, it will have an effect on religious freedom. It will be enhanced. Non-religious people won't have religion shoved down their throats at government events, and religious people will STILL be able to pray and worship all day long to their heart's content.

Barb said...

Listen, Anonymous --who is bringing the lawsuits against the free expression of others? the ACLU. And their concerns ARE petty.

But when people are sued by the ACLU for these petty grievances of the ACLU's, they are NOT being petty to defend their rights instead of kowtowing to the intimidation of the ACLU which is targeting Christian free expression.

Anonymous said...

Government does not have the right of Free Expression, nor Free Exercise, Barb. These are rights of the People.

Barb said...

Yes, Anony --rights of the people wherever they are and in any of their public activities. If the majority want to ask God to bless the graduates and thank Him for their achievements and say God Bless the USA! SO BE IT!!! Why don't you just get over it!!

Instead of persuading the majority that you are right, you want to threaten with lawsuits and control the majority with a grinch-like, petty negativity over innocuous prayers and acknowledgments of the Supreme being that most Americans believe we should acknowledge if we would be blessed by Him.

Many of us --MOST of us-- really believe: "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord." That doesn't threaten your right to believe otherwise --not in the least. You need to develop a little tolerance of the religious in this country!!

Lady Janus said...

"If the majority want to ask God to bless the graduates and thank Him for their achievements and say God Bless the USA! SO BE IT!!! Why don't you just get over it!!"

Because the "majority" (which is no majority at all -- just a very loud and very squeaky rust spot on the wheel hub) is trying to assume the authority to speak for all the people, and they cannot have that.

No one is free until everyone is free. And you're the one who needs to learn tolerance.