Updated Jan. 19
WASHINGTON (BP)–Atheist Michael Newdow lost in his bid Jan. 14 to have prayer removed from President Bush’s inauguration. An appeal is likely.
Newdow — the same man who last year lost a Supreme Court case concerning “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance — had filed suit in federal court seeking to prevent prayer from taking place at the Jan. 20 inauguration. His lawsuit specifically targeted the invocation and benediction. He asked the court for a preliminary injunction.
But U.S. District Judge John Bates ruled Jan. 14 that prohibiting prayer “at this eleventh hour” would cause “considerable disruption in a significant, carefully-planned, national event.”
“Given the significant doubt that his action can proceed in the face of substantial questions relating to issue preclusion and standing, and the absence of a clearly established violation of the Establishment Clause, the Court concludes that Newdow has not satisfied the threshold requirement for extraordinary preliminary relief — a convincing showing of a substantial likelihood of success on the merits,” Bates wrote.
Bates noted that the practice of inviting clergy to deliver the inaugural prayer dates back nearly 70 years and “arguably can be traced back to the Inauguration of President George Washington in 1789.”