Attorney General Joins Prayer Brief
Special Report - July 16, 2010
North Carolina’s Attorney General has signed onto an amicus brief supporting the constitutionality of the National Day of Prayer (NDP) in the Department of Justice’s appeal of a lower court decision that said the federal statute establishing the annual day of prayer violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The statute establishing the NDP was signed into law by President Truman in 1952, and later amended in 1988 to set aside the first Thursday of every May as the official day of the event. In April, District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that the NDP statute “goes beyond mere ‘acknowledgment’ of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context.” See our previous story on her ruling here.
On July 8, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper joined 28 other state attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in support of the NDP with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The brief, which was authored by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, urges the Appeals Court to overturn Judge Crabb’s ruling and argues that statutes establishing days of prayer, including the federal NDP statute, are “entirely constitutional.” The brief continues, “Such laws do not require any citizen to engage in any religious activity of any kind. Nor do such laws require any governmental body to engage in any such activity. Such laws merely acknowledge the role that prayer has played in our Nation's religious heritage-and permit those citizens who wish to do so to pray.” The brief also warns that Judge Crabb’s ruling, “casts doubt on state laws across the country that similarly provide for a day of prayer. Even in States that have not enacted such laws to date, proclamations providing for a day of prayer are traditionally issued by state officials in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer. In addition, States frequently issue proclamations acknowledging that their citizens may choose to pray together during special times of difficulty in the State. The ruling below calls into question this traditional state practice.”
In related news, 67 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including North Carolina Representatives Virginia Foxx, Walter Jones, Patrick McHenry, Mike McIntyre, Sue Myrick, and Heath Shuler, also signed onto an amicus brief filed by the American Center for Law and Justice on July 8, calling for the reversal of Judge Crabb’s decision. And, as we previously reported, the North Carolina Family Policy Council joined 27 other family policy councils and several pro-family groups, in an amicus brief supporting the NDP, which was filed with the appeals court on July 7 by the Liberty Institute.
Judge Says No National Day of Prayer - April 19, 2010
NCFPC Joins Day of Prayer Brief - July 7, 2010
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