Claiming that the Obama administration is not presenting the strongest possible defense of the National Day of Prayer, several groups have filed requests that they be allowed to join the defense against what they see as an attempt to “scrub” the observance from the public square.
In April U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled a law allowing the president to declare the National Day of Prayer was unconstitutional. Critics of the ruling objected that the practice was part of America’s heritage.
The case is now being reviewed by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), said that the Justice Department brief “doesn't go far enough in defending the National Day of Prayer.”
“The President's attorneys failed to cite any of the key cases that would require immediate dismissal of this lawsuit because the plaintiffs lack standing to bring it. FRC plans to mount a robust defense of this important national event that a liberal judge has attempted to scrub from the public square," Perkins commented in a press release.
Ken Klukowski, director of the FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty and lead counsel for the FRC amicus brief in the case, discussed Obama administration officials’ recent habit of defending the “freedom to worship.” He said the First Amendment right to freedom of religion “goes far beyond just worship.”
According to Klukowski, FRC is asking the court to allow it to participate to ensure “a vigorous defense” against a lawsuit which claimed to be unconstitutional “a tradition as old as this country itself.”
“It is our hope that the Court will recognize that the American people deserve and expect their elected leaders to vigorously defend our constitutional right to religious freedom,” he reported.
Klukowski argued that the courts cannot ban free expression by citizens who participate in the National Day of Prayer because “such participation is not imposed.”
“Neither the Constitution nor the (National Day of Prayer) itself require any religious activity by anyone, anywhere. So, if permitted, we intend to present a convincing case that this is a perfect example of a harassing lawsuit that should have been dismissed at the outset,” he explained.
The FRC motion for argument is joined by The Liberty Institute and more than a dozen other family groups.