Ruling on a suit filed by the Freedom from Religion Foundation (yay Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor!), Federal judge Barbara Crabb found that the proclamation of a National Day of Prayer violated the Constitution’s provision for separation of church and state. Crabb ruled that the official proclamation amounts to a governmental call for religious action. According to MSNBC:
“It 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,” Crabb wrote. “In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience.”
But Crabb also says her order does not block any prayer day until after appeals in the case are exhausted.
You can download Crabb’s 66-page opinion here.
White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that the ruling therefore doesn’t prevent Obama from issuing a Day of Prayer proclamation in May and that the president will do so.
Now I wonder what our conservative Supreme Court will do with this one? I can see Scalia squirming and squinting hard at the Constitution.