April 15, 2010
Judge Rules National Day of Prayer Unconstitutional
A federal judge has ruled that the National Day of Prayer, observed the first Thursday of May, is unconstitutional.
In Madison, Wisconsin, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled in favor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a group of atheists and agnostics that brought a lawsuit against former President George W. Bush's administration. According to a 2008 Associated Press article, Shirley Dobson, chairwoman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force at the time, was named in the lawsuit.
"It is unfortunate that this court failed to understand that a day set aside for prayer for the country represents a time-honored tradition that embraces the First Amendment, not violates it," Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the the American Center for Law and Justice, said in a statement.
In 1952, President Truman signed into law a Congressional resolution establishing a National Day of Prayer. In 1988, Congress named the first Thursday in May the official date for the National Day of Prayer.
Update: The Justice Department is appealing the decision.