(Washington, DC, January 6, 2009) Shortly before the close of business yesterday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted a hearing in Newdow v. Roberts. The hearing is scheduled for January 15, 2009.
This is the case in which eleven nontheistic organizations and twenty-nine nontheistic individuals, led by Michael Newdow, sued to stop plans to include prayer and a religious oath in the forthcoming inauguration of Barack Obama as president of the United States.
“If we prevail at the January 15 hearing, this inauguration will be secular, as it should be under the Constitution,” said Bob Ritter, staff attorney for the Appignani Humanist Legal Center of the American Humanist Association and co-counsel in the case.
The complaint was filed by Michael Newdow–famous for litigation on the Pledge of Allegiance–the American Humanist Association, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Atheist Alliance International and others. It addresses constitutional concerns regarding the intended use of the phrase “so help me God” in the swearing-in ceremony and sectarian prayer in the invocation and benediction. Included as defendants in the suit are Chief Justice John Roberts, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Major General Richard J. Rowe Jr., the Reverend Rick Warren and the Reverend Joe Lowery.
In his order granting the hearing, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton gave the defendants until 5 p.m., January 7, 2009, to file any opposition to the plaintiffs’ motion. The hearing will take place January 15, 2009, at 2 p.m. in Courtroom 16 of the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse, 333 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001.
“From the very start, we were confident in the legal merits of this case,” declared Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “This is foundational litigation aimed at defending central principles enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.”
The full text of the complaint, the motion for preliminary injunction, and the court order for the hearing are all available online at:
The original press release announcing the litigation is at: