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7th Circuit Nixes Challenge to National Day of Prayer

Posted Apr 14, 2011 3:20 PM CDT
By Stephanie Francis Ward

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A federal lawsuit challenging the National Day of Prayer was thrown out today by the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Associated Press reports, on the basis of standing.

The plaintiff, the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, was not harmed by President Barack Obama's proclamation, the three-judge panel found.

"A feeling of alienation cannot suffice as injury," Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote (PDF) for the appeals court.

The proclamation speaks to all citizens, Easterbrook also wrote, but no one is obliged to pray "any more than a person would be obliged to hand over his money if the President asked all citizens to support the Red Cross or other charities."

In 2010, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that the National Day of Prayer was unconstitutional because it amounts to a call for religious action.

In a statement issued Thursday, the Freedom from Religion Foundation wrote that it would seek a review by the full appeals court.

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