“Plaintiffs have not altered their conduct one whit or incurred any cost in time or money. All they have is disagreement with the President’s action,” the court said in an opinion by Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook. “A feeling of alienation cannot suffice as injury.”
The proclamation is a request, not a demand, and citizens are not 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,” Judge Easterbrook said.
The court returned the case to district court with instructions to dismiss the lawsuit.
Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said that the decision was “part of an ominous trend in the federal courts to deny Americans the right to challenge church-state violations.” His group filed a brief in support of the case.
The Alliance Defense Fund’s Theriot defended the decision, saying:
“The 7th Circuit has clearly understood that the Freedom From Religion Foundation simply had no legal standing to attack the federal statute setting a day for the National Day of Prayer simply because the group is offended by religion.”