Conservative legal experts say a federal district judge in Wisconsin had no legal basis for declaring the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional – and predict the decision cannot stand.
"If the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional, then the Constitution itself if unconstitutional," Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which represented 31 members of Congress in an amicus brief defending the National Day of Prayer, said the decision was badly thought out.
"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," at the Constitutional Convention, after five weeks of nothing being accomplished. Benjamin Franklin stood up and said, 'Why is it that we have not once applied to the Father of Lights to eliminate understanding?'
"He said, 'In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, we had daily prayer in this room.' He went on to say that he had lived a long time, and the longer he lived the more convincing proofs he saw of the truth of God governing the affairs of men. He went on to move that, 'Henceforth, that prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings upon our deliberations in Congress be held every day.'
"And from that day in 1787, until today, the very day I'm talking with you, we start (each session of Congress) with prayer. President after president have had National Days of Prayer – the whole country has. President Obama, who last year issued a proclamation contend that the statute is simply an "acknowledgment of the role of religion in American life" that is similar to other ceremonial practices that courts have upheld in the past