Oral arguments in FFRF v. Barack Obama will take place Dec. 2 before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago.
In October, several groups submitted amicus briefs backing FFRF’s challenge of the National Day of Prayer.
A federal judge’s historic ruling in FFRF’s favor April 15, 2010, created a firestorm around the nation. The Obama administration immediately appealed District Judge Barbara Crabb’s decision that declared unconstitutional the 1952 law creating a National Day of Prayer and a 1988 law making the first Thursday in May the National Day of Prayer. Congress compels the president to issue a National Day of Prayer proclamation every year.
Filing briefs in favor of FFRF were:
• The American Jewish Committee, headed by Marc Stern, whose brief noted: “Some AJC members are religiously obervant and some are not, some pray and some do not, and our membership — like the U.S. population at large — reflects a diverse and wide range of beliefs about God. But as a group, the AJC is committed to the ideas that government should not involve itself in encouraging or discouraging religious observances or practices, including prayer, and that our Constitution wisely leaves decisions concerning matters of individual conscience and belief, such as whether and when to pray, exclusively to individuals and the private religious community.”
• Americans United for Separation of Church and State, signed also by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Interfaith Alliance.
AU noted: “Religious groups can coordinate without government assistance (indeed, numerous denominations promulgate religious calendars worldwide without any government aid). It does not reflect ‘hostility’ to religion to allow religious groups, like all other civic groups, to schedule their own events.”
• The Center for Inquiry, which noted that a “significant shift if religious demographics undermines any notion that instances of ceremonial deism foster inclusiveness and social unity.”
• The American Humanist Association, whose brief was signed by the Institute for Humanist Studies, Military Religious Freedom Foundation, Secular Student Alliance and Society for Humanistic Judaism. The AHA brief said: “The NDP statute and proclamations issued by presidents pursuant to the statute violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by endorsing and promoting religion. In simplest terms, the NDP statute and proclamations infringe upon the fundamental right of religious liberty by allowing the majority to use the machinery of the government to promote Judeo-Christian monotheistic beliefs.”
“We’re grateful for the support by so many significant organizations of the constitutional principle of freedom from religion in government,” said Foundation Co-President Dan Barker.
You can read the briefs in their entirety, and all of FFRF’s and the government’s briefs and motions on this historic case, at