Atheists Take Inauguration Fight to Supreme Court

Washington, D.C – A group of atheists and humanists led by chronic litigant Michael Newdow is now asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their challenge to parts of the presidential inauguration ceremony.

The atheists are suing Chief Justice John Roberts, Drs. Rick Warren and Joseph Lowery for their roles in President Obama’s inauguration nearly two years ago. The plaintiffs claim that they are offended by the traditional invocation and benediction at the inauguration, as well as the recital of “So help me God” at the end of the presidential oath. Pacific Justice Institute represents Revs. Warren and.Lowery, who offered the invocation and benediction, respectively.

Earlier this year, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a trial court’s ruling dismissing the case. The U.S. Supreme Court will now decide whether it wants to hear the case.

PJI Chief Counsel Kevin Snider, who is handling the case on behalf of the ministers, commented, “The lower courts got it right by refusing to let a few offended observers overturn an American tradition. Suing ministers for praying in public at the invitation of the President is clearly inconsistent with the spirit and letter of the First Amendment.”

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, stated, “Again and again the federal courts have rejected attempts to silence prayers at presidential inaugurations. We are committed to seeing this case through until our national heritage—which includes acknowledgment of the Almighty—is vindicated.”