Supreme Court Rejects Michael Newdows Challenge to Inaugural Prayer

Jan 19, 2005

Washington, DC – Today the United States Supreme Court rejected Michael Newdow’s challenge in which he sought to prohibit clergy from praying during the Inauguration scheduled for tomorrow.

Michael Newdow, the self-declared atheist whose lawsuit against the Pledge of Allegiance was thrown out by the United States Supreme Court last year, filed suit a few weeks ago to stop clergy-led prayer from occurring during the Presidential Inauguration. The lawsuit was rejected by the Federal District Court and the Federal Court of Appeals. Mr. Newdow then filed an emergency petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the prayer. Emergency petitions are usually handled by a particular Justice assigned to the Circuit Court of Appeals. In this case the petition went before Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who is set to administer the Oath to President George W. Bush. Newdow’s attempt to recuse the Chief Justice was unsuccessful. Chief Justice Rehnquist also denied the emergency petition. The result is that there will be prayer during the Inauguration.

Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, stated, “From George Washington to George W. Bush, prayer has been part of our Presidential Inaugurations. Prayer has been an essential part of America and her history. Our history is pervaded by religious expressions. We are a nation of religious refugees, and it is therefore commonplace to see and hear expressions of religion. Including prayer at a Presidential Inauguration in no way establishes a religion.”