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Athiest asks Supreme Court to ban prayer at Bush inauguration

[JURIST] Michael Newdow [TIME profile], the Sacramento man who challenged the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, has appealed to the Supreme Court for an injunction against the recitation of planned prayers at the Bush inauguration, saying that they represent an unconstitutional violation of the separation of church and state. US District Judge John Bates denied Newdow's request [JURIST report] in a ruling [PDF text] Friday, saying that Newdow was not likely to succeed on the merits. An appeals court refused to issue a preliminary injunction, and Newdow filed an emergency request to the Supreme Court. Additionally, Newdow has requested that Chief Justice Rehnquist, who is designated as the justice to hear emergency appeals from the DC Circuit, recuse himself, because he is scheduled to perform the swearing-in ceremony and thus has a conflict of interest. If Rehnquist does recuse himself, the issue will be decided by Justice Stevens, the next senior justice. AP has more.

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