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Friday, January 07, 2005

Atheist Sues To Thwart Inauguration Prayer

Atheist Sues to Thwart Inauguration Prayer.

SAN FRANCISCO - An atheist who sued because he did not want his young daughter exposed to the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance has filed a suit to bar the saying of a prayer at President Bush's inauguration.

Michael Newdow notes that two ministers delivered Christian invocations at Bush's first inaugural ceremony in 2001, and that plans call for a minister to do the same before Bush takes the oath of office Jan. 20.

In a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Newdow says the use of a prayer is unconstitutional. The case is tentatively scheduled Jan. 14.

Last year, the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tossed the same lawsuit, saying Newdow did not suffer "a sufficiently concrete and specific injury." But the decision did not bar him from filing the challenge in a different circuit.

Newdow is best known for trying to remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.

He won that case more than two years ago before a federal appeals court, which said it was an unconstitutional blending of church and state for public school students to pledge to God.

In June, however, the Supreme Court said Newdow could not lawfully sue because he did not have custody of his elementary school-aged daughter, on whose behalf he sued, and because the girl's mother objected to the suit.

Newdow refiled the pledge suit in Sacramento federal court this week, naming eight other plaintiffs who are custodial parents or the children themselves.

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