United States District Court Judge Barbara Crabb’s ruling declaring the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional is still unpopular on Capitol Hill. A bipartisan group roughly 30 members strong took to the microphones Wednesday to denounce last week’s decision and urge President Barack Obama to take the necessary steps to appeal the ruling.
Despite Judge Crabb’s determination that the day “serves no purpose but to encourage a religious exercise, making it difficult for a reasonable observer to see the statute as anything other than a religious endorsement,” members viewed this as a specious claim thanks to the wording of the law.
The legislative language, according to the Co-Chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC), does not require a religious exercise, it merely suggests it. Reading from the original declaration Rep. McIntyre says there is no demand for prayer on a day established by the President, “on which the people of the United States may m-a-y may (sic) turn to God in prayer and meditation.” The m-word, McIntyre thinks, “clears it up.”
Over the course of the hour-long press conference, members voiced their support for the National Day of Prayer, pointing to the long history of prayer in the lives of the founding fathers and mentions of a “Supreme Being” or “Creator” in the Bill of Rights and Constitution as keystones in the nation’s identity.
On the legislative front, Congressional Prayer Caucus Member Rep. Todd Tihart (R-KS) plans to introduce a resolution calling for an appeal to Judge Crabb’s ruling. He expects it to be as popular with members as the National Day of Prayer decision is unpopular.
Members say that the ruling will reach the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and if the ruling is not overturned there, they will push for the case to be heard at the United States Supreme Court.