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Today in legal history...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Federal judge ruled National Day of Prayer unconstitutional
Dwyer Arce at 12:00 AM ET

On April 15, 2010, a judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin ruled that the National Day of Prayer was an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion. Judge Barbara Crabb issued summary judgment in favor of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which challenged 36 USC § 119, establishing a day of prayer. The statute, passed in 1952 and amended in 1988 to make it the first Thursday in May, says the president will declare the day so people "may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals." In her ruling, Crabb said the National Day of Prayer violates the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit later vacated the ruling, finding that the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue.

Learn more about the First Amendment and the laws regulating religion from the JURIST news archive.

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