Washington, DC, June 9, 2010
Earlier today, Michael Newdow filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit requesting a panel rehearing or for rehearing en banc in the case of Newdow v. Roberts. The case challenges the oath administrator’s addition of the phrase “so help me God” to the constitutionally prescribed presidential oath and the inclusion of sectarian prayers in the invocation and benediction of the 2009 inauguration of President Obama and the 2013 and 2017 ceremonies.
U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton had ruled on March 12, 2009 that all plaintiffs in Newdow v. Roberts lacked standing to pursue such cases. And on May 7, 2010, a three-judge panel issued an order affirming Judge Walton’s order dismissing the case for lack of standing.
“The Court of Appeals should grant Newdow’s request for a rehearing,” said Bob Ritter, staff attorney of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, the legal arm of the American Humanist Association, and co-counsel with Newdow. “I continue to firmly believe that the religious practices of presidential inaugural ceremonies run afoul of the First Amendment, and the courts have the judicial power to declare these acts unconstitutional and enjoin such practices from occurring at future ceremonies.”
In the petition, Newdow wrote: “The panel majority’s opinion in this case conflicts with Marbury v. Madison (1803), and every subsequent decision where standing to challenge an executive branch action was deemed to exist due to an alleged abrogation of an individual’s vested right.”
Newdow also said, “By ruling that such an action is not redressable in this case, the panel majority has opened the door to far-reaching abuses by eliminating one of the most important safeguards against unchecked governmental power.”
The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 100 local chapters and affiliates across America.
Humanism is the idea that you can be good without a belief in God.